Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms
The Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) started in November 1979 as an emergency overnight shelter in the ballroom of the Morrison Hotel in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. A small staff served nearly 200 chronically homeless Seattle adults that, “due to their severe and persistent mental and addictive illnesses, were not being served by the existing shelters of the time,” according to their website. Over the next decade, DESC partnered with the City of Seattle, the Greater Seattle Council of Churches, and Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill to assess the shortages in providing resources for the vulnerable homeless people in the community. The organization rallied in 1984 to create the first severe weather overflow shelter in King County.