The Blaine Center is a 60-bed men’s shelter nestled beneath the First Church parking garage on Warren and Denny. The shelter is run in partnership with Compass Housing Alliance.
More Than A Place to Sleep
Blending compassion and caring with effective programs and unique services, the people and programs at each of Compass Housing Alliance’s locations promote dignity, self esteem, and respect for self and others. One-on-one case management identifies the issues that led to street life and helps each person set his or her own goals.
Life on the streets is a difficult, frightening and lonely experience. Compass Housing Alliance Shelter and Day Services are designed to help those in crisis work toward increased stability, independence and healthy community life. These services work with homeless individuals on their immediate needs, offering a place to take a shower, sleep for the night, have their mail sent, and have access to banking services. The shelter and day services are the first step for many clients towards recovery.
The Men’s Inn program at the Blaine Center provides temporary overnight shelter for sixty men, including case management, shelter, meals, and storage. The shelter is staffed by three direct service staff and a case manager.
The need for shelter is great-estimates of Seattle’s homeless population put the number somewhere around 6,000 to 8,000 people. In spite of a robust system for providing emergency shelter in our area, the 2009 Seattle/King County One Night Count documented 1,977 unsheltered men and women spending the night on park benches, in parking garages, vehicles, doorways, alleys, and under roadways.
The number of homeless men and women in our area points to chronic societal issues that are difficult to influence. For instance, nowhere in the United States does the federal minimum wage allow a working family enough financial resources to afford a fair market two-bedroom apartment.
The Men’s Inn program at First Church’s Blaine Center serves single, homeless men who are 18 and older. The shelter is on a harm-reduction model.
Many come to Compass Housing Alliance having multiple issues including domestic abuse, mental illness, drug/alcohol dependence, poor employment histories, undeveloped employment skills, child custody or other legal issues, and poor or incomplete rental histories. Some of the clients who access the emergency services are non-sheltered, sleeping on the streets, in parks, under bridges, and having no other available meals or hygiene facilities.
Most individuals have no income or very low incomes. Those served by our case management and shelter program have incomes below $7500/year. Client data indicate that 40% of the men served by Compass Housing Alliance are Veterans.
A Strong Partnership
The Men’s Shelter program at the Blaine Center is the result of a robust partnership between First United Methodist Church and Compass Housing Alliance. The Shelter program began as a contracted for a one-year engagement at First Church, with a mid-year evaluation to determine longer-term plans.
Founded by Rev. David Blaine and his wife Catharine in 1853, First Church is the oldest organization in Seattle and its oldest congregation. First Church ministers through worship, education, and community activities, and has a special focus on helping the urban poor in downtown Seattle.
With over 150 years of serving the Seattle area, First Church has a long history of leadership in delivery of human services, including:
- Supporting Civil War veterans in the late 1800′s
- Providing asylum for Chinese workers during the riots of 1886
- Feeding indigent families in the church’s soup kitchen during the Great Depression
- Reaching out to servicemen during World War II
- Founding a retirement home for senior citizens in 1961
- Providing housing to homeless men and women through Pulliam/Wesley Haven in the 1970′s and 80′s
- Helping establish a 40-bed overnight shelter, and a daytime homeless women’s congregation
- Providing a weekly breakfast for the hungry that has continued for thirteen years and today serves over 250 needy individuals
Compass Housing Alliance
One of the premier providers of shelter in King County, Compass Housing Alliance programs in our area include:
- Shelter and day services,
- Short-term transitional housing,
- Long-term housing,
- Veterans housing,
- Family Program,
- The Church of Steadfast Love (a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
Compass Housing Alliance was founded in 1920 when a remarkable couple from Sweden began a little mission in Seattle – part chapel, part employment agency, part reading room, part language school, part soup kitchen, part crash-pad for the stranded. In some ways, Compass Housing Alliance would be almost unrecognizable to them today. But the faith of Reverend and Mrs. Alva Karlstrom was so expansive that they might not be surprised to know how many thousands of people their “Lutheran Compass Mission” would help over the years.
Blending compassion and caring with effective programs and unique services, the people and programs at each of Compass Housing Alliance’s locations promote dignity, self esteem, and respect for self and others.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to meet people where they are, listen to their stories, and to “walk alongside” and share the journey. Let us know if you’d like to volunteer!
Activities you or your group (friends, community group, etc.) can participate in:
- Serve Dinner: Sign up as a group or individually to serve dinner from 6-8 p.m. Dinner is provided nightly to 60 guests and being on the food line is a great way to get to know people and have a task at the same time. You will also have the opportunity to sit down and have dinner with our guests as you are comfortable doing so; Compass Housing Alliance tells us that the men are gracious and appreciate having a “new ear to bend.”
- Host Dinner: Break in our gorgeous new kitchen by cooking and serving dinner. Compass Housing Alliance is expert at this, and can help you or your group figure out logistics.
- Host a Movie Night: Choose a favorite and share it with our guests-be the folks that bring popcorn and soda! This activity goes from 7-9 p.m.
- Host an Activity or Group: Do you have a special skill or talent that you’d like to share with our guests? Maybe you’re an artist, builder, writer, or circus clown-we’re open to great ideas. This can be setup as an ongoing activity or a one-time event.
- Host Something New: First Church and Compass Housing Alliance are open to trying something new. What can you think of?
Sign up by contacting the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 622-7278.