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Impact of Hotels as Non-Congregate Emergency Shelters

Impact of Hotels as Non-Congregate Emergency Shelters

In April 2020, King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Public Health Officer Jeffrey Duchin responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with an unprecedented act. They moved more than 700 people out of crowded congregate emergency shelters and into hotel rooms. By November 2020, over 400 more people had also been temporarily sheltered in hotels.

Their decision was part of a regional effort to decrease the numbers of people in the shelter system. The goal was to limit the transmission of the virus and protect vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness. The county, the City of Seattle and provider agencies also lessened crowding by opening new congregate shelters that could provide enough space for social distancing. At all sites, providers received support to meet Public Health guidance for social distancing and to prevent and control infection.

A team of researchers from the University of Washington and the King County Department of Community and Human Services was engaged to study the impacts of this change in programming. The data showed that the strategy did limit the spread of COVID-19 among persons moved to hotel locations compared to those who stayed in congregate settings. The study also found additional positive results for individuals in hotel locations. They experienced:

  • feeling more stability thanks to having a consistent, private room
  • improved health and well-being shown through better sleep, hygiene, mental health and overall, by having a clean, private room with a bathroom
  • reduced interpersonal conflict thanks to having more privacy and lessened anxiety. This resulted in fewer emergency 911 calls from hotel shelters.
  • more time to think about and take steps towards future goals such as finding permanent housing, a job or more education
  • more leaving temporary shelter to live in permanent housing, and greater participation in homeless housing services.

Burien accepts DESC into AHDP

Architect's rendering of the main corner of a six-story apartment building, mainly brown, but with yellow and blue panels, and a first floor lined with windows.
The main corner of the Burien building as the architect envisions it.

We’re excited to announce that at their June 21 meeting, the Burien City Council voted 6-1 in favor of including DESC Burien, a permanent supportive housing development, into the Burien Affordable Housing Demonstration Program!

The Burien project will be the first DESC housing built outside of the city of Seattle.

The council also amended the measure to require an interlocal agreement (ILA) between Burien and King County (or the Regional Homelessness Authority). The ILA aims to ensure that 30 percent of the people housed in the new building come from Burien. We are happy to participate in this effort, and think that we can help make this happen.

The project will create much-needed stable supportive housing for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. We plan to begin construction early in 2022 on a new apartment building on a site at 801 SW 150th St., Burien, 98166. It will feature 95 studio units of affordable housing with supportive services and indoor/outdoor community spaces for our tenants, single adults who are disabled and formerly homeless. The project reserves 25 units for veterans experiencing homelessness. We look forward to continuing to develop relationships in Burien and to being good neighbors for years to come!

Learn more about the Burien project here.