[Hpn] BARE BONES ROOMS ARE BETTER THAN SLEEPING UNDER FREEWAY
William Charles Tinker
Sun, 23 Oct 2005 07:34:48 -0400
October 22, 2005
Bare-bones surplus building beats sleeping under freeway
By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times staff reporter
It may not sound like much - four bare rooms, no bathrooms, no kitchen or
even hot water. But when you have been sleeping under a freeway overpass, it
seems grand indeed.
"Pretty awesome," said Greg Davis, 43, who is about to change his digs from
the I-5 ramp at Seventh and Cherry to temporary shelter at the old INS
building near the International District.
The General Services Administration (GSA) announced yesterday it would allow
homeless people living at the freeway ramp to take shelter in four rooms in
the building from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Portable toilets will be put in the parking lot, and there is a sink in the
basement. The building also has electricity.
The GSA issued a 30-day license to use the building to Seattle Housing &
Resource Effort, or SHARE, to operate the shelter at 815 Airport Way S.
The currently vacant building is managed by GSA and has been declared
surplus property. The federal government wants to rid itself of the
building, a process that could take several months.
Meanwhile, SHARE can use the building to provide lodging for up to 40 people
who had been sleeping under the overpass. SHARE can renew the license to
operate the shelter if the building is still vacant.
Built in 1932, the U.S. Immigration Station and Assay Office was placed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The building has been
vacant since January.
Shelter activists staged a demonstration at the building in August to
protest people going homeless in the shadow of empty buildings.
Some of the demonstrators were from the ranks of about 50 men and women who
have been sleeping under the freeway overpass through Safe Haven, a shelter
program operated by SHARE, an organization of homeless people dedicated to
Davis, who has been sleeping outside for more than 100 nights, says he looks
forward to Monday, when the keys to the INS building will be handed over to
"I think it's great. When you don't have anything as simple as a room with a
roof, we are actually counting the hours."
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or firstname.lastname@example.org