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New Facility In Ballard Aims To Provide Basic Resources For The Homeless

Courtesy of the Low Income Housing Institute
The outside of a new urban rest stop operated by the Low Income Housing Institute. It will provide free showers and laundry services to the homeless in Ballard.


One of the many challenges of being homeless is staying clean and having fresh clothes. An organization called the Low Income Housing Institutehas two urban rest stops in Seattle, where people living on the streets or in their cars can take a shower and clean their clothes free of charge. One is downtown; the other is in the University District.

Next Monday, October 12, a new rest stop is scheduled to open in Ballard.

“They are able to maintain their job, or look for work - or even like, go to an interview or … apply for housing by looking presentable,” says Sharon Lee, the non-profit’s executive director.

The new rest stop will be located at 2014 NW 57th St. on at the first floor of an apartment building, not too far from the Ballard Branch of The Seattle Public Library.

The facility will rely on private donations and will cost more than $200,000 each year to operate. When it opens, it will be staffed with volunteers who can connect people with social services.

For neighbors and nearby businesses who are not happy with this new edition, Ronie Gilboa asked them to remember what it is like to go camping.

“Do you remember what it’s like to come home to a shower and a clean bed? What if you don’t have access to clean running water?” said Gilboa

GIlboa manages the rest stops. She said Ballard’s mix of parks and industrial areas makes it an attractive place to be homeless. She expects the Ballard rest stop will provide more than 200 showers a day and clean more than 40 loads of laundry daily.

According to data collected by the Low Income Housing Initiative, many of the people who use its rest stops are people who have jobs, but can not afford housing.

When the Seattle homeless count was done this past January, there were more than 600 additional people living on the streets compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray’s office said it is committed to opening a homeless encampment in Ballard. A spokesman for Murray said a location at 2826 NW Market Street is ideal.  However, neighbors have suggested an alternate site. The city will look that option before issuing any permits.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.