News

Member Highlight: Seattle Housing Authority


HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is Seattle Housing Authority. Thank you for all the work that you do!


  1. What excites your team about the work you are doing? 

 

Staff at the Seattle Housing Authority are the most energized around bringing our mission, values and strategic priorities to life in real ways that help real people. Staff who work with our 34,000-plus residents and Housing Choice Voucher participants every day see firsthand what it means to people to have safe, quality, affordable housing. Seeing what having a stable home does for someone – and services such as access to proper health care, job training, academic support for a child – is inspiring. We are working to do a better job of sharing the stories of our tenants with our staff, board, partners, stakeholders and members of the community who don’t have the opportunity to meet our clients in the course of their daily work. Hearing people we serve describe in their own words the difference our housing and programs make in their lives is what makes the work exciting.

 

 

  1. What is a favorite office anecdote?

 

This past year we consolidated a number of employment related services into one comprehensive program called JobLink.  Career Coaches work individually with tenants to help them find a job right away, enroll in training and education and then find a job; get a better job; or start a small business. As part of promoting the new program, the JobLink team created magnets. The magnets began to appear in the apartments of tenants who might benefit from the JobLink program. They showed up on refrigerators, oven doors and other places. What caring person put them there? How? Turned out to be maintenance staff, who have a unique opportunity to spend time with and get to know residents and their needs while they are in the home to work on a leaky pipe or broken light fixture. The magnets are now a regular tool in the kit, right there with the wrenches and screwdrivers. And some grateful residents have turned up in a JobLink Orientation.

 

 

  1. What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to? 

 

In early 2019, SHA will open our fourth new residential building to be constructed as part of the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace near downtown Seattle. The opening of Red Cedar will put us past the halfway mark in the transformation of Yesler from 561 units of aging housing to a vibrant model, mixed-income community with up to 5,000 homes, attractive open spaces, increased community space, improved transportation and enhanced economic opportunity. We are also excited to be able to expand our inventory through an Acquisition Plan recently approved by our board, which will ensure that 500 units in Seattle will either remain affordable or become affordable to low-income households. We have a nationally recognized partnership with Seattle Public Schools, to improve educational achievement of SHA students. We are working in partnership with the University of Washington to build more than 150 units of affordable housing on UW-owned land near the campus, and are investing in a “buy-up” program to add badly needed apartments sized for larger families to new construction by other housing provider partners. We will complete the promise of rebuilding NewHolly through a partnership with HomeSight at Othello that will bring healthcare resources, education and affordable housing to the community. We are advancing a Digital Communications and Digital Equity Initiative to provide news and information to our tenants in a more convenient and timely way, make it easy for them to translate information and link them to a host of community resources and services. We are also expanding our Race and Social Justice Initiative to include more opportunities to learn, and to ensure our own practices are equitable, inclusive and contribute to breaking down institutional racism.

 

  1. What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?

 

All of us at SHA are proud to serve our community. We are proud of the quality of our housing and of our commitment to continually improve our programs and services. We have a great staff of skilled, dedicated people and we have strong partners, who make it possible to help people beyond the basic need for housing. These partners are a critical part of the SHA network. We are most proud, however, of our tenants. They prove day in and day out the resilience of people living on low incomes. Abdikani, and his mother who worked two jobs so he could graduate from the University of Washington. Jill, who studied hard to get her nursing degree so she could provide a better life for her daughter and give back by working in community health. Marvin who pulled himself out of more than a decade of substance abuse and homelessness and now volunteers helping others find a new path. Ruben, a lifelong professional musician on a quest to perform for fellow residents in all 23 Seattle Senior Housing Program locations. We are proud, and at the same time humbled, to serve them.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

Join HDC, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and other partners in the affordable housing community for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 28th.

By participating in advocacy day you will

  • Learn more about Housing Policy
  • Build your Advocacy Skills
  • Meet your lawmakers alongside experienced advocates in pre-scheduled meetings;
  • Be a part of the affordable housing movement

HHAD is an all day advocacy down in Olympia where you will join with people across the State to work towards a future where everyone in Washington has access a safe, healthy, and affordable home. HDC will work to help anyone who needs transportation to Olympia, so reach out to Leah if you plan on attending and want to carpool with a fellow HDC member. To learn more about accessibility accommodations, training materials, and more, click here!

Register for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

 

Enter 2019-Building the Future

HDC ED Article: Enter 2019—Building the Future

Another year is behind us. It was, as you know, not just any other year. Certainly not for your affordable housing association. Last year, HDC members gathered many times to “embrace the past” and celebrate 30 remarkable, and remarkably impactful, years.

The shared respect for those decades of commitment was evident in the work of a small group of long-time HDC leaders and staff who toiled through many meetings, memories, and archives to compile a set of banners—powerful visual statements honoring years of work by so many people and making 30 years of artifacts accessible to each of us, today’s leaders who are tasked with the responsibility of “building the future.”

I’m frequently surprised when I learn new details about world and U.S. history that add depth, clarity, and challenging truths to what we’re typically taught or hear as lore. It’s true that we often ignore all that we could learn simply by understanding history. I guess some of that just reflects our yearning to look and move forward and our tendency to assume the past is less relevant and instructive than it really is.

There are some things about the HDC past, however, that we should not only dwell on, but use as the foundation on which to build our next decade of work. For example, as the first association of its kind in the nation, HDC is uniquely enriched by a long history of engagement from a contingent of exceptional nonprofits. And HDC members from all areas have been stellar advocates who work persistently to renew critical levies that support housing. Member involvement in HDC programming and leadership development opportunities continually fuel the workforce needed to anticipate and respond to complex emerging issues.

So how do we think about the future? According to the King County Regional Affordable Housing Task Force (RAHTF), we need 156,000 affordable homes today…or 244,000 homes by 2040. Those numbers are daunting. As a “right now” number, 156,000 operates outside the realm of our practical comprehension. So it was decided that it would be better to set a goal of 44,000 additional affordable homes every five years until 2040.

All of us are preoccupied with how many households and how many individuals are struggling with housing security. We all wonder if it’s possible to address the full need when we’re already performing at peak day after day during an ongoing crisis.

But aren’t we the ones expected to confront and absorb the magnitude of the gap that still exists between our best performance and the need? We’re definitely the ones handed the responsibility to build the shared direction for the next decades of work in this area. So again, I ask: how do we think about the future?

I think the first critical step is finding the space—making the space—to have meaningful and impactful conversations and to constructively challenge each other. In that spirit, here are some of my top conversation starters:

1) HDC is unique in its structure and now has nearly 180 diverse members making up what our predecessors referred to as a “big tent.” We have to master the leverage of that influence and join forces across sectors to change the regressive revenue model in our state. We cannot
continue to ask local elected officials and voters to add more regressive sales and property taxes that in the end still leave us far short of the resources we need and actually exacerbate the challenges of those struggling on the periphery.

2) We need to bring regional decision making and regional action to the challenge of achieving scale. The RAHTF took up this question and discovered how challenging it will be for us to work through the cultural barriers of this kind of change. But bottom line? It’s jugular to any level of success. So is efficiency, especially in the face of limited time and resources; we have to look for ways to reduce fragmentation and overlap in the work of like minded organizations.

3) Throughout all of our efforts to improve effectiveness and efficiency, we must never sacrifice the excellence this membership has become known for in both the services we provide and the products we produce. No one who struggles with housing insecurity should ever be identified by word, by action, or by the quality of their home as “lesser than.” We can continue to build quality housing, deepen its sustainability, and ensure healthy living environments while also reaping life cycle cost savings.

4) The bright line we have drawn between the role of the nonprofit and for-profit development sectors must be evaluated. To achieve scale we need every shovel, trowel, and saw focused on one thing: production (and where feasible, preservation). I encourage us to find ways to leverage our individual strengths into collective action and impact.

5) Most importantly, we must overcome the blatant inequities that exist in our county. This has to be the bellwether of all of our efforts going forward. There can be no compromise.

There are many more topics we could start with. I’m sure you have some you are ready to toss out there as well—please share those with me or any HDC staff member. I hope that 2019 is the year of rich discourse and challenge. I hope it’s also the one where we together develop strategies that have all of us working to house over 8,000 additional households a year and enable all of our King County neighbors to live with dignity in safe, healthy, and affordable homes within communities of opportunity.

Here’s to the start of an incredible year,

Marty Kooistra

Member Highlight: Congregation for the Homeless

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is Congregation for the Homeless. Thank you for all the work that you do!


1.      What excites your team about the work you are doing?  

Our team loves to build authentic relationships with the men we serve.  It is a privilege to get to know them; their story, fears, hopes, and dreams.  It is so inspiring and life-giving to see the joy on a man’s face as he achieves life goals and feels cared for by the community and the community feels cared for by him.  There is much celebration when men we know and love hold a key in their hands and walking into their new homes.

 

2.      What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to?  

CFH is moving forward with building a permanent shelter, day center, and supportive services in Bellevue.  We are excited to move forward with a specific site in the coming weeks.  We are also excited about the efforts that are happening between CFH, community members, businesses, and the city who are working to do the work needed so we can have year round emergency shelter for men on the Eastside.  

3.      What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?  

We are proud of bringing on a licensed mental health therapist who is providing support to men in housing.  Men are able to work through trauma, share their lives, etc. with someone who is deeply skilled to be present and guide them to a place of personal stability.

Member Highlight: Kate’s House

 

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is Kate’s House Thank you for all the work that you do!


1.    What excites your team about the work you are doing?  We are the first sober living and recovery homes in the state of Washington to be certified as Level II, Medically approved Treatment homes.   We invested our personal 401K money on the first house we rehabbed in a great neighborhood with a plan of creating a model for others to copy.   By using density and housing unrelated people in groups of 8, we can afford to purchase real estate in great neighborhoods.   We are changing the trajectory of our residents by placing our homes in residential neighborhoods.

2.      What is a favorite office anecdote? Because we serve the Department of Corrections, probation officers often show up at our homes to check on our residents.  They typically have on vests and carry guns.  All of the probation officers know we do not allow men on the property.  One morning, Frank was leaving one of our houses after a minor repair, only to have two officers giving him the stink eye and getting ready to question him hard for being in the house.   We believe that we are also reducing the crime rate in our zip code!

3.      What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to?  We recently signed a contract with King County drug court to house people in their program.   We have been asked to speak around the state of Washington about our model of housing and to replicate our housing in other cities, from Spokane to Yakima.   We teach a class on how to become nationally certified recovery homes throughout the country.

4.      What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?  We are thrilled to be apart of HDC!We feel supported in growing our model of affordable housing.  We are proud to be a member alongside many of the larger corporations that are long time HDC members.   We are one family who believed that the private sector can impact homelessness.  After three years, we have served 140 men and women and are growing exponentially.

We would ask that you take a look at our newly updated website.  On the opening page are two short Youtube videos that you may want to include.

Member Highlight: Rebuilding Together

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is Rebuilding Together. Thank you for all the work that you do!


  1. What excites your team about the work you are doing?

One of the things that our staff, supporters, and volunteers appreciate about our work is the ability to connect with people on a very personal level.  Everyone we work with has an incredible life story, and it doesn’t have to be a tragic one to realize just how much their home has impacted their life, the wellbeing of their family, and the neighborhood they’ve helped shape.  Being able to ensure families have housing stability and security while making sure their home isn’t putting them at risk of injury or illness is incredibly rewarding and powers our work.

  1. What is a favorite office anecdote?

This story is quite sad as well, so you’ll forgive us for trying to find some humor in it, but we once had a program applicant that we were unable to gain their trust enough to move forward with a planned project.  You can imagine how difficult it would be to invite volunteers, strangers essentially, into your home to start making changes to it, even if the changes were much needed repairs or accessibility improvements.  Not all of the people who reach out to us are in fact ready to receive support and this applicant was in such a position.  To cancel the project and withdraw their application, they left a voicemail message one evening that ended with, “Well I guess I’ll see you…never!” and hung up.  “See ya…never!” has become a common refrain for us when heading out to a meeting or leaving for the day.  And while funny now, also reminds us of the vulnerability and trust that we ask of our neighbors, and the urgency in not taking for granted the few chances we have to improve someone’s life.

  1. What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to?

As I’m sure most of you have had as well, this year has been incredibly busy for Rebuilding Together.  Later this year we will celebrate our 2,000 home repair project in our 29-year history, with 1,000 of those projects coming in the last 5 years alone!  And while we will reach about the same number of households as last year, 225, we have begun to layer funding and resources onto projects in order to complete deeper impact work scopes in phases.  In addition to larger, longer projects, we have also started to concentrate resources in neighborhoods where homeownership is still high, but poverty levels are on the rise.  I think few of us might realize that between 2000 and 2015, neighborhoods with poverty rates above 20% have more than doubled in our region.  Moreover, substandard housing, housing instability and displacement, and economic disparity are disproportionately affecting communities of color, with African-American homeownership dropping in half from 40% to 20% in Seattle between 2000 and 2013, for example.  As such, we are shifting from a scattered site approach of addressing substandard housing conditions at individual homes, to a concentrated approach of making sustained investments in neighborhoods of opportunity where we can also begin to help address the health and safety of entire communities.  This approach will keep housing repair and rehab at the core of our mission, but also allow us to engage with organizations and in projects that intersect with other social determinants of health, outside of solely housing.  More companies, organizations, and agencies than ever are helping us make that possible through direct program funding, as well as joining us in our housing rehab work, and we’d love to have even more HDC members join us in 2019 to ensure that people have not only an affordable place to live, but a safe and healthy one as well.

  1. What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?

Rebuilding Together has only been an HDC member for about 3 years now, but during that time we’ve seen some of the conversation around our housing issues start to include addressing substandard, unsafe, and unhealthy housing conditions, as well as encompass a broader spectrum of housing needs to tackle our affordability issues, including affordable homeownership.  In working to eliminating homelessness, I also now see more focus on the prevention and housing stabilization side.  I think those are all strong signs that we are collectively thinking deeper about our housing challenges and are getting to a point where we’re not just reactionary, but are able to get out ahead of housing needs so we can mitigate future crises.  So I’m most proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, and HDC has been at the center of that leadership.

Member Highlight: All Home

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is All Home. Thank you for all the work that you do!


  1. What excites your team about the work you are doing? 

We are excited about transforming the homeless response system to lead with racial equity and to having people with lived experience of homelessness participate comprehensively in the design, implementation and evaluation of the system. We believe this work is critical to addressing racial disparities and making homelessness rare, brief and one-time in King County.

  1. What is a favorite office anecdote?

One day, almost all members of the team showed up wearing some version of a black and white striped top: sweaters, t-shirts and even a jacket. Great minds think (and dress) alike!

  1. What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to? 

We are looking forward to our campaign and work to end youth homelessness in King County by 2020! We are proud to have many partners, including Pearl Jam and A Way Home Washington (AWHWA) to create a truly comprehensive system that meets the needs of all young people in King County and eventually across Washington state.

  1. What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?

We are incredibly proud of the work we have done across the system to become more data-driven. We now have public-facing dashboards that are updated quarterly and available on the All Home website to tell us how our system is performing and to help drive decisions.

Take Action: Community Reinvestment Act

WHAT

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comment on reforming the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA is a federal law design to “encourage commercial banks and savings associations to help meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low-and moderate income neighborhoods.” 

WHY

By weakening the CRA, could reduce banks incentives to continue doing the vitally important work of investing in housing and community development. Because of this, HDC and partners such as NACEDA are encouraging all our members to submit comment letters advocating for “the OCC to withdraw the ANPR and to engage collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a process that will amplify the impact of CRA for those it was intended to benefit, rather than lowering the bar for banks in meeting their statutory obligation.”

HOW

Submit a comment letter before November 19th to address the potential negative impact that the proposed changes could have on the communities we advocate for!

Examples:

HDC

NACEDA

NCRC

Member Highlight: YMCA Accelerator

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is YMCA Accelerator. Thank you for all the work that you do!


1.  What excites your team about the work you are doing?
Accelerator Y’s team is excited by the expansion of King County’s Host Homes program, which connects young adults who are experiencing homelessness with caring adults in the community who are willing to open up there room for 6 months. The program is growing, and we’ve had many successful matches that have led to more than just stable housing. One great example is a young woman who was matched with a host who shared a love for animals. The host connected the young woman with her friend who is a Veterinarian for a job shadow opportunity. Fast forward to today, and young woman is now employed by the Vet’s office!

2.  What is a favorite office anecdote?
Every week, our team gathers around the “Huddle Board” to discuss participants that are co-enrolled in programs across Accelerator Y. This quick check-in every week provides case managers with a chance to set up a game plan with their peers to better serve young people in our community. Huddle is a great time for staff to get to know their peers and to learn from each other! And of course, bringing snacks to huddle is strongly encouraged J

3. What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to?
Accelerator Y is part of the Youth Housing Demonstration Program and has added a few new innovative roles to the team to help better serve youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. This includes the expansion of crisis services to young adults, the addition of an adolescent and family therapist, housing navigators, and peer mentors to support young people who may be on the brink of homelessness and can be diverted through these services. We look forward to serving many more young people through these unique positions.

4.  What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member? 

We joined just this spring, but were proud to join other HDC members in supporting the effort to use hotel/motel taxes for affordable housing and youth homeless services.

Member Highlight: International Rescue Committee

HDC appreciates all the passion, hard work, and dedication our members devote to the affordable housing movement. No single organization could make this impact and secure this progress alone. The collaboration and connection among members is the human energy that works to ensure all people have a safe, healthy, and affordable home. We want to show our appreciation and learn more about our affordable housing community through these member highlights as each member is crucial to achieving the larger vision of this movement. This week our featured member is International Rescue Committee (IRC). Thank you for all the work that you do!


  1. What excites your team about the work you are doing? 

As refugee resettlement has become a more polarized issue at the federal level, we are continually inspired by how much community support there is for our work locally. In the past year, 700 volunteers contributed well over 20,000 hours helping the IRC empower our newest neighbors. Individuals, community groups, and businesses all throughout our community are stepping up to say refugees and immigrants are welcome in Washington State.

  1. What is a favorite office anecdote?

The IRC in Seattle is a close-nit team with ample team spirit. Every year, we host “IRC Way Day” to learn about the IRC’s core values of integrity, service, and accountability. It’s become a tradition for our office to also produce a homemade music video on IRC Way Day, lip syncing to popular songs with custom IRC-themed lyrics and dancing together as a team. It’s a great chance to blow off steam and have fun together!

  1. What upcoming projects, partnerships, and news are you looking forward to? 

There is much to look forward to in the year ahead. One partnership we’re particularly excited about is expanding our work with AirBnB’s Open Homes program. Through Open Homes, the IRC is able to provide free transitional housing to refugee and immigrant families who are new to the Seattle area and waiting to be placed in long-term housing. Open Homes also offers emergency shelter for refugees, immigrants, and survivors of human trafficking who are experiencing crises or a major life transitions. This is a great resource, allowing the IRC to be more responsive to the needs of vulnerable clients in urgent need of housing.

  1. What have you been most proud of during your time as an HDC member?

The IRC is honored to be an HDC member, working with a broad coalition of partners on an issue that’s so critical to our community. It’s energizing to witness the concrete results of HDC members’ advocacy and organizing efforts. One such victory we’re proud of is King County Council’s recent vote to allocate additional lodging tax dollars to fund affordable housing.