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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Smoke relief shelter remains open as region continues to experience poor air quality

Summary

The emergency shelter, located in a building King County outfitted to serve as a COVID-19 assessment and recovery center, is open 24/7 and has been extended to September 16, due to continuing poor air quality. To offer a safe, clean place for people experiencing homelessness to come inside and breathe clean air, King County and the City of Seattle worked together to open a temporary smoke relief shelter in Seattle’s Sodo area.

Story

As wildfires continue to rage in Washington State, the air quality in Seattle and King County remains at dangerous levels and all residents have been cautioned to stay indoors.

To offer a safe indoor place for people experiencing homelessness, King County repurposed one of its Assessment and Recovery Centers (AC/RCs) to serve as a temporary emergency shelter. The smoke relief shelter located at 1045 6th Ave South in SoDo is now projected to stay open until Wednesday, Sept. 16. Currently 100 people are staying in the SoDo smoke relief shelter, and King County and Salvation Army staff are welcoming as many guests into the shelter as possible without creating unsafe conditions for the spread of COVID-19.

"The continuing poor air quality poses a health risk to every resident in King County, but particularly to those who do not have a home where they can get relief," said King County Executive Dow Constantine. "We are fortunate that we have a space we could quickly repurpose, and staff willing to step forward to provide this critical service to our neighbors experiencing homelessness."

The Sodo AC/RC was created to respond to a projected surge in infection due to COVID-19. Thanks to strong efforts by County residents to practice safe hand hygiene, mask wearing, social distancing, and isolating and quarantining when ill, King County has not experienced high surges in infection that other parts of the country have seen. With COVID-19 infection rates stable, it has not yet been necessary to open the site.

Onsite services are being provided by The Salvation Army, with additional staffing by the Department of Community and Human Services and other County staff. Public Health Reserve Corps members are onsite most of the day and evenings to assist with any health needs, and guests are screened for COVID symptoms. Meals and other basic needs are also being met onsite.

Public Health – Seattle & King County has advised that agencies should open facilities only if they possess high-quality air filtration systems and can comply with public health guidance around face coverings, social distancing and capacity restrictions to help to address the continuing risk of COVID infection. The Sodo site is very large, with space to ensure social distancing between cots. Because it was created to serve as a COVID isolation and recovery center, the Sodo site has an excellent air filtration system, special germ resistant surfaces, and no-touch hand washing stations throughout the building.

The doors opened Friday at 3:00 pm on September 11 and are scheduled to remain open 24/7 until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 16. County and City officials will continue to monitor environmental conditions.


Relevant links


Quotes

The continuing poor air quality poses a health risk to every resident in King County, but particularly to those who do not have a home where they can get relief. We are fortunate that we have a space we could quickly repurpose, and staff willing to step forward to provide this critical service to our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

For more information, contact:

Chase Gallagher, Executive Office, 206-263-8537


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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