In Seattle's Little Saigon community, Quang Lam's family owns Hau Hau Market. He says he found out that a homeless shelter was going in down the street about a month ago."I heard it from my brother, and he heard it from someone else," said Lam. "If you are encouraging people who have a drug problem or alcohol problem, then you are obviously impacting the safety of this neighborhood, of this whole general area."
Lam is referring to the vacant office building, located in the 600 block of 12th Avenue South, that the city wants to turn into a Navigation Center. It would be a dorm-like facility that could serve up to 75 people at one time, according to a City of Seattle press release. Drug use would not be allowed inside, but people struggling with addiction would. The city says the plan is to provide resources to help those battling substance abuse.The Navigation Center was going to open in Spring, but now Mayor Ed Murray confirms there has been delays.
"Our plan is to have it up and running in July. It's been a little disappointing that it's taken this long, but every neighborhood we go into and we open up a facility, we have struggles," said Mayor Murray.Members of the local business community sent the mayor a letter in March, stating that they were "very disappointed with the city's lack of communication" about the Navigation Center.
During that same month, protesters interrupted a morning city council briefing to express their concerns.Mayor Murray said, "I've met with them over the last few months, and made a promise we would continue to work with them. I also made a promise to them, if it doesn't work out... we will close it down."
Lam says he wants the city to include community stakeholders in every step of the process."I just want more involvement in planning to tell you the truth," said Lam. "Just getting an idea if it is actually a good spot (for a shelter.)"