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King County to open homeless shelter in wing of Seattle jail

A new shelter in a portion of the King County Corrections Center will house 125-150 single adults.

King County will open a temporary 24-hour emergency shelter in the west wing of the downtown Seattle jail.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Thursday that the shelter will house between 125 and 150 single adults. The space would be open to anyone, including those leaving the justice system.

“Throughout King County government, we are constantly asking: what resources can we leverage to help people off the streets?” Constantine said in a release. “What innovations can we deploy? What new approach can we try?”

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The west wing of the King County Corrections Center, which is located at Fifth Avenue and Jefferson Street, is currently used for staff education and training and equipment and records storage, according to Constantine.

It will cost about $2 million to prepare the space and about $2 million annually to operate. A spokesperson for Constantine's office said they hope the shelter is open by the end of the year.

The shelter will provide cots or bunks for sleeping, lockers, bathrooms, and showers. The space, which will be open 24 hours a day, covers three floors with office space on the first floor.

The county will also expand hours at an overnight shelter at Fourth Avenue abd Jefferson Street to add a day center and more outreach.

A recent audit of homeless outreach in Seattle called for more shelter beds in the city, finding that a lack of shelter beds may hinder Seattle outreach workers from sheltering people.

From mid-March to December 2017, there were an average of just 18 beds available for referral each night, according to the report.

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