Some question why homeless shelter is moving into Seattle Center, close to playground

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SEATTLE — An iconic place — home to the Space Needle, the Monorail and the Children’s Museum — is now a refuge for the homeless.

“We are in crisis mode,” Seattle resident Allison Weide said.

The fact that the Next 50 Pavilion building inside the Seattle Center is now a temporary shelter highlights the crisis the city is facing.

“It actually does surprise me that’s where they would choose,” parent Michelle Gardner said, referring to the location of the shelter.

Inside, 75 beds for men who are homeless, just steps away from a popular playground.

Some parents say they are compassionate to the homeless crisis but question if a tourist landmark is the best the city can do.

“Part of it is that it’s a city facility so we could access it pretty quickly,” said Meg Olberding with Seattle Human Services Department.

Olberding said space is at a premium in Seattle and she emphasized the city center site is an overnight shelter and it is only temporary. The shelter moved to the Seattle Center because their previous location is under construction.

“It’s not the ideal location but at the same time we need to do something about the homeless crisis,” Weide said.

People like Weide say they understand the need, but she is more concerned about the bigger picture of homelessness.

“Start back at square one and figure out why we aren’t successful,” Weide said.

Others say there is too much shuffling going on, moving homeless people from one site to another. The road to permanent housing is a complicated one especially when you are dealing with some people who do not accept help.

“It’s a difficult situation, some people are not ready to come inside,” Olberding said.

The city says on its end, the process is more streamlined and the cleanup process is quicker.

A navigation team goes out equipped to help people on the streets in a more effective way, according to the city.

Olberding says more homeless people are accepting help than before.

The temporary shelter at the Seattle Center will close on April 17.

Olberding says the city is still looking for another location to place the overnight shelter and welcomes any suggestions.