Our Emergency Shelter Program is a vital survival resource for thousands of homeless people who might otherwise have nowhere else to go. In addition to providing safe, secure shelter, hot meals, and day-time safe haven from the streets, the shelter is a focal point for DESC's outreach efforts, and helps people access a wide range of programs (both at DESC and elsewhere) to help them stabilize their lives and get permanent housing.
The Emergency Shelter Program serves more than 4,000 men and women each year. The people using our shelter are among the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community. Most are coping with one or more major disabilities. Among these, mental illness, addiction to alcohol or other drugs, physical or developmental disabilities are the most common. Many people have been chronically homeless, and are unable to acquire or maintain housing without substantial support..
Each night the shelter provides a place to sleep and a hot meal for up to 279 people in three locations:
- shelter for 204 men and women in The Morrison (including an intensively-staffed, 20-bed Crisis Respite Program);
- shelter for 50 men in Sacred Heart Church in lower Queen Anne; and
- a 25 bed shelter for mentally ill homeless women in one of DESC’s supportive housing projects, Kerner-Scott House.
In emergencies, residents of The Union Hotel and The Lyon Building have allowed their community rooms to be used for extra shelter. During the day, the main shelter at The Morrison is a drop-in center where people can seek refuge from the streets and the weather, and access a wide variety of services, including hygiene facilities, mail and phone services and emergency clothing.
The main shelter also offers on-site medical care, mental health counseling and chemical dependency treatment. Five DESC mental health case managers and a chemical dependency counselor are sited in the shelter, as well as a registered nurse from Health Care for the Homeless. Also, in coordination with University of Washington Family Medicine, the Community Health Advancement Program operates a bi-weekly dermatology clinic. The health care clients receive in the shelter goes a long way toward preventing or postponing emergency room visits that are so costly to the community.