The pandemic’s lasting effects and continued stay-at-home orders have left empty buildings and unused land that could be used for the homeless population, one that has been hit hard by COVID-19.

In April, Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) moved 200 shelter guests into a Red Lion Hotel in Renton and has since then extended its contract to the end of the year. Since this move, researchers with the University of Washington conducted a study with the King County Department of Community and Human Services that determined moving people out of homeless shelters and into hotels helped slow the spread of COVID-19. These solutions should not be temporary — we can’t just take all of these finally housed people and move them back to a crowded shelter when the contracts end.

Amazon donated part of its office spaces to Mary’s Place, a shelter for families and children, which has housed up to 200 people each night. This has given homeless individuals and families safe housing that meets public-health guidelines. With the pandemic shifting the majority of the workforce to remote work indefinitely, there is more opportunity to seize empty space and use it for permanent housing.

Cassidy Farrow, Seattle