Appreciating Mark Gropper

Mark Gropper, Executive Director of Renton Housing Authority, retired on January 6. We hope you will join us in congratulating Mark on this well-deserved new chapter!

Mark’s affordable housing story begins in 1983. He was studying pre-engineering at UW and eager to move out on his own, so when his friend told him about an opening for an “easy gig” where he could do his homework while watching a desk, he took it. That’s how 19-year-old Mark ended up working the graveyard shift at Seattle Housing Authority’s Morrison Hotel. With shifts from 11pm to 7am, the work turned out to be far from easy—but early on it had him hooked.

“It opened my eyes to a different world and a more enriching career. From that point on I poured my energy into being a houser.”

Read More

Affordable Housing Newbie at a Community Meeting

My name is Elan, and I joined the HDC team in October as Communications Manager. I’m here because I believe that everyone deserves to be safely, affordably housed—but when it comes to policy, advocacy, and even the vocabulary of the affordable housing sector I have a lot to learn!

I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. So if you’re someone who is interested in advocacy action but doesn’t have much experience, or you’re also new to the sector, or you just want to learn a little more about the landscape of affordable housing, then I’m inviting you to come along with me!

Right now, the City of Seattle is hosting a series of Community Meetings about the Comprehensive Plan. This only happens once every 10 years—and it’s a BIG deal!

Read More

Honoring Frontline Staff, Board Service

White text on a blue background reads: 2022 Frontline Staff & Board of Directors Awards.

At our Annual Member Meeting last week, we had the honor of presenting our Board of Directors Award and Frontline Staff Award. Both of these awards recognize individuals who have been outstanding champions of HDC’s mission and have made an important impact in the community and affordable housing sector. We hope you will join us in congratulating these four awardees!

Read More

3 Housing Facts for Transgender Awareness Week

3 Housing Facts for Transgender Awareness Week banner

November 13-19 is Transgender Awareness Week, a week for elevating transgender existence and resilience and for calling attention to the issues that transgender and gender non-conforming people face. It’s a week of education and action in the lead up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), when transgender communities and their allies hold vigils to commemorate the lives of all transgender people lost to violence in the last year.

When it comes to housing security for transgender communities, and particularly for BIPOC transgender and gender non-conforming people, the numbers are stark. We realize that our vision for a King County in which all people live with dignity in safe, healthy, and affordable homes is one that cannot be achieved without reckoning with these disparities. As such, we’re including a roundup of good resources and stories of both the challenges and palpable successes of Queer and Trans BIPOC housing projects taking root in our community with great resiliency and triumph.

But first, the facts are:

Read More

HDC Coalition Comment on Seattle Comprehensive Plan Update – Expand Scope for Abundant and Affordable Homes

We, the undersigned organizations, represent a coalition committed to advancing housing affordability and addressing climate change through Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan update, including affordable housing developers and operators, environmental advocates, climate activists, and grassroots housing organizers. We thank you for the opportunity to comment on the scope of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the One Seattle Plan 2024 Comprehensive Plan update. It is essential that the City analyzes a full range of growth alternatives in the EIS. We urge you to expand the scope of analysis of each of the alternative growth strategies and to advance a new transformative Alternative 6, to provide as much flexibility to build as many homes as possible.

Read More

Appreciating Mark Santos-Johnson

A picture of Mark Santos-Johnson

Mark Santos-Johnson, the Community Development & Housing Manager at the City of Renton, retired on May 20th.

Mark has worked tirelessly in the housing sector for more than 40 years – from working to develop and manage the Broadview Emergency Shelter with the Fremont Public Association (now Solid Ground), to working as the manager of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program at the Washington State Housing Finance Commission supporting the construction of thousands of affordable homes across the state, to spending the last twenty-two years at the City of Renton dedicated to developing affordable housing and providing greater opportunities for the community’s current and future residents.

Read More

Patience Malaba Named New Executive Director

We are very pleased to announce that Patience Malaba has been selected as HDC’s next Executive Director.

Patience Malaba, HDC’s new Executive Director

For almost four years at HDC, and in increasing levels of responsibility, Patience has served as HDC’s Director of Government Relations and Policy. Prior to that, she managed Seattle for Everyone, a broad coalition that was central to the success of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Previous positions also include work with Futurewise and the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 6

Patience has been recognized for her leadership in addressing the intersecting crises of affordable housing, racial equity, and climate change and was the 2020 Bullitt Foundation Environmental Fellowship awardee. A powerful advocate for affordable homes and equitable communities, her efforts have advanced cross-sector partnerships that result in equitable access to affordable housing. A demonstrated commitment to housing access, equity, and community makes her the ideal person to guide HDC into the next phase of our leadership role in creating affordable housing for all people in King County.

Read More

HDC Seeking Fair Resolution to Concrete Strike

Unionized concrete truck drivers stopped driving throughout King County and the impact of the concrete truck drivers’ strike has a significant detrimental effect on the production of affordable housing. The negative impacts are substantial and as housing advocates, we are seeking a fair resolution as fast as possible.

As the Housing Development Consortium (HDC), we support the workers being paid fair wages and recognize the connection between wages and housing stability. We urge bargaining partners to advance good faith negotiations that include a fair contract for workers in tandem with ensuring the creation of desperately needed affordable housing.

The concrete strike has measurable financial impacts on affordable housing projects. The related delays cost the projects in two ways. First, the general contractor is entitled to schedule extensions that come with a cost. Second, the delay will force additional interest to accumulate on the construction loan and will incur delay penalties due to the late delivery of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The combination of these two is enumerated at a negative cost impact of $3.8M collectively and grows each day the work stoppage continues.

Read More

HDC Member Highlight: The Nehemiah Initiative

The Nehemiah Initiative Seattle has had quite a start-up year. The nonprofit formed on January 1 of this year but has been a functioning group and mission for almost 20 years.

The Nehemiah Initiative Seattle is a faith-based community development initiative (FBDI). Its mission is to empower the African American community in the Seattle region and beyond to support the retention of historically Black institutions by advocating for development of real property assets owned by those historically Black institutions.

Read More

HDC Member Highlight: BUILD LLC

BUILD LLC is a multi-disciplinary architectural design firm with a diverse portfolio of work that demonstrates elegance, integrity, and simplification of the complex. With over 20 years of experience rooted in integrated design and a working knowledge of construction, BUILD partners with commercial developers, corporate and facility managers, institutional and educational planners, and residential clients to create projects that provide lasting value. BUILD’s focus is on thorough research, accurate program design, ensuring client value, and solving the right problems.

They have the experience and expertise in everything from master planning, feasibility studies, and project cost analysis, to full design documentation and various permitting and entitlement processes. The BUILD team has developed and built nearly every type of project, and always brings an unmatched, robust, construction administration service during the crucial phases of project building, implementation, and commissioning.

BUILD is truly a full-service firm, and their foremost attention is in relating to clients on a fundamental level, and ensuring that they handle each client and project with respect and care.

BUILDing a Foundation

BUILD’s founder Kevin Eckert and his longtime partner Andrew van Leeuwen began their careers at Swenson Say Fagét engineers where they learned the nuts and bolts of construction, and designing and permitting from the engineers perspective. Not surprisingly, when Kevin subsequently founded BUILD, the firm offered design and construction services; although BUILD no longer provides the latter, the team brings this sensibility and know-how to all of their projects—every line they draw is executed with a deep knowledge of the complexity that goes into putting buildings together and their commensurate construction costs.

BUILD brings their collaborative and education-driven values to HDC. At the heart of BUILD’s philosophy is the sharing of information, and the widely-read BUILD blog allows the team to engage in a dialogue — ideas, insights, concerns etc. — with a global audience. The architectural paradigm of the past incentivized architects to keep their ideas, methods, and processes to themselves, which resulted in an exclusive system of design. This is antithetical to the very nature of an affordable and equitable society, and social media offers design professionals the opportunity to create a new transparent model. For the last 15 years, through its various social media platforms, BUILD has been able to foster communication and collaboration with the public and within the profession.

BUILDing with Values

“As architects concerned with our collective future, and who care deeply about community, we aspire to make projects that ensure a high quality of life for current and future generations. This begins with having a home that meets our basic needs; we know that being able to feel secure contributes to an entire household’s well-being and sense of belonging, particularly the most vulnerable: our children. According to BUILD, “We also appreciate that all other forms of security (nutrition assistance, employment, relationships…) flow from having stable and dependable housing. We continue to advocate for removing barriers to providing more access to affordable housing through our work, our widely read blog, and in our communities.”

BUILD is working on several projects through its satellite office in Sisters, Oregon, which include workforce housing that will allow families to reside within walking distance of their employers and schools, and the opportunity to purchase their homes—and by default, to build equity. This kind of work excites BUILD. Additionally, BUILD was asked to design and develop a series of prototype cottages and townhomes for multiple sites within and on the edge of the current Sisters Urban Growth Boundary. Projects of this scale further underscore BUILD’s commitment to creating affordable home options for local families and local businesses.

BUILDing Community

BUILD LLC considers it a priority to create impactful philanthropic programming, and to engage with, enrich, and bolster various non-profit organizations.

In 2020, BUILD launched its Humanity in Action Racial Equity Scholarship to support entrepreneurial high school students focused on inciting change. As a company that provides urban planning and design services, BUILD has the opportunity to shape our physical environment and influence locales throughout the Northwest. The BUILD staff continually strive to make places that are accessible for all, and to do so in a socially- and racially-just manner. In the midst of the most powerful social movement our country has experienced in decades, BUILD’s scholarship recognizes the important work so many are performing in support of racial and social equity. The first scholarship was awarded in 2021.

From 2009 to 2019, BUILD hosted and participated in a yearly charity ride from Seattle to Vancouver, the revenue of which supported two organizations each year, raising an annual average of $22,000 and a ten-year total of $206,000. For 2019’s 188-mile ride, proceeds benefited Seattle’s Bike Works and Team Gleason. Post-pandemic, they fully intend to resume this impactful, team building, and fun program!

Entering HDC membership during the current health crisis, BUILD is navigating – professionally and personally – the intersection of health and housing. “While we at BUILD have a deeper understanding of disease transmission and how to design buildings and systems that will reduce potentially negative health outcomes, over the last 15 months we have been confronted by the systemic racism and inequalities that are embedded in our culture, and by extension, our industry. We are no longer conducting business as usual; we have made personal commitments to continue educating ourselves on the myriad inequities and injustices that pervade society, and the roles we may play in eradicating them—for each other, for our clients, for our profession, and for our world.”

Welcome to the HDC movement, BUILD!