Special Meeting Notice


CAPITOL HILL HOUSING

SPECIAL MEETING NOTICE

November 7, 2016

Capitol Hill Housing will hold a special meeting for the CHH State Audit Entrance in the Belmont Conference Room in the CHH main office at 1620 12th Avenue Suite 205 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Thank you,
Capitol Hill Housing

My Last Time on the Soapbox

The following post appeared in our November edition of our monthly e-newsletter, Building Blocks. Sign up on our mailing list if you’d like to receive updates on our work!

Imagine you were hit with an unexpected medical bill for $400. Would you pay it off in cash? Put it on your credit card? When the Federal Reserve asked American consumers this question, a shocking 47% of respondents said they would not be able to cover an expense of that size.

The survey points to a troubling reality: many people across the country are living paycheck to paycheck. In Seattle, there are over 40,000 low-income households spending more than half of their income on housing, squeezed more and more as rents rise.

 

When most of your earnings go to keeping a roof over your head, the line between being stably housed and on the street can be very fine. Back in July of 2015, the Committee to End Homelessness in King County presented a study showing that an increase of only $100 in median rent corresponded to a 15% increase in the homeless population.

 

I am often asked what role CHH has in addressing the homelessness crisis. The answer? A large one. We don’t run homeless shelters, or tent cities, or conduct outreach. But we do own or manage over 1,400 affordable units across the city, and for many of our residents, an affordable place to rent is the difference that keeps them off the street.

 

We also know that getting people into housing is often only the first step on their journey home. Our resident services staff works tirelessly to connect tenants to resources and opportunities in the community. And when folks fall on times of financial hardship, we provide emergency one-time rental assistance to those who complete a financial education class, to try and keep as many people in their homes as possible.

 

For families that are making just enough to scrape by, quality, affordable homes close to jobs and public transit can make a world of difference. Next year we are excited to break ground on the 115-unit Liberty Bank Building project, our largest yet. It represents our commitment to make sure that as Seattle grows and changes, we continue to offer housing for people at all income levels. When growth happens, it should help lift all residents, not push some out.

 

Chris Persons returned from his three-month sabbatical this week, so this will be my last time on the soapbox. We’re all glad he had some time to recharge his batteries, but also excited to welcome him back. May his renewed energy be infectious as we rise to meet new challenges and opportunities in our ongoing fight to keep Seattle affordable for all.

 

Jill Fleming, Acting CEO
Jill Fleming, Acting CEO

Meeting Change Notice

October 24, 2016

Capitol Hill Housing has changed the date of the Executive Committee meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room in the CHH main office at 1620 12th Avenue Suite 205 on October 31st at 5pm.

This meeting is now scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 5pm in the same location.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

CHH MEETING CANCELLATION NOTICE

CAPITOL HILL HOUSING

MEETING CANCELLATION NOTICE

 September 26, 2016

Capitol Hill Housing has cancelled a meeting of the Property Development Committee, originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room in the CHH main office at 1620 12th Avenue Suite 205 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm on Tuesday, October 4.

 Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

A New Standard for Development

The following post appeared in our October edition of our monthly e-newsletter, Building Blocks. Sign up on our mailing list if you’d like to receive updates on our work!

September was an especially busy month for Capitol Hill Housing.

Through the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, we hosted the first-ever Capitol Hill Renter Summit and brought over 100 renters together to have their voices heard by the Mayor and a number of local officials.

I formally signed the purchase and sale agreement for our project at the Capitol Hill light rail station, continuing to move forward our development of affordable apartments above a new, thriving transit hub.

And we were humbled by the community’s generosity at our annual Omnivorous event. A packed room of guests enjoyed fine food and drinks from 27 of Capitol Hill’s best restaurants and raised over $185,000 for our resident services program, which connects CHH tenants to job training, financial counseling, and other services that increase their stability and improve the lives of their families.

All of these events are an important reminder that our work extends far beyond building affordable housing. We build vibrant and engaged communities, working alongside our neighbors to ensure the opportunities our city offers are available to everyone.

Today, we further that work with our announcement of signed a memorandum of understanding with Africatown-Central District Preservation and Development Association, Black Community Impact Alliance, and Centerstone to help guide the redevelopment of the Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union.

The memorandum sets out a shared vision for the project and the partnership’s goal to appropriately honor the legacy of Liberty Bank by leveraging the site redevelopment to directly address displacement and empower the African-American community. In addition to creating 115 affordable homes, our partnership hopes to set a new standard in the Central District and beyond, demonstrating how development can, and should, lift up the community.

I encourage you to visit LibertyBankBuilding.org to learn more.

Jill Fleming, Acting CEO

Jill Fleming, Acting CEO

A Sabbatical is a Time for Reflection

As most of you know, our CEO Chris Persons is on a three month sabbatical, returning November 1. I have been Acting CEO for the last month and appreciate all the support that the staff and board have given me in this new role. By way of background, I have worked in the affordable housing world for 29 years – 19 years as a CPA working with affordable housing owners and developers and 10 years here at CHH as CFO and Deputy Director.

A sabbatical is a time for reflection, renewal and growth for the employee. For those employees taking on the duties of the sabbatical taker, it is also a time of growth. (I think the reflection part will come a bit later for me). Of course the organization continues to grow and evolve as well. Every year brings change but 2016 feels like a particularly full year to me. I remind myself that change brings opportunity if you let it and that we at CHH are not shy about seizing opportunities. I welcome your thoughts on change and life at CHH. Just send me an email.

Finally, it is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Robert “Uncle Bob” Santos. An incredible activist, mentor, and leader, he understood better than most the true power of organization to shape the future of a community. His contributions to Seattle, and in particular to the International District, are vast and will remain a shining example for generations to come. Our condolences go out to his wife, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.

Jill Fleming, Acting CEO
Jill Fleming, Acting CEO

Some Rest and Recognition

Sabbatical

“A leave for rest, travel or research.” 

On August 1, I start a three month sabbatical for rest, travel and even a little research.  This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am speechless with gratitude toward my board and staff for granting me this chance.  But it’s not just me.  Our sabbatical program is available to anyone on staff, a wonderful benefit to support our great team.

The research says that sabbaticals are good times to give others in the organization the opportunity to lead and grow.   With this in mind, we’ve spent some time preparing Jill Fleming to take the helm in my absence—not that she needed much.  As Acting CEO, Jill will assume all the authority and responsibility that resides in this position.  Michael Seiwerath, Stacey McQuade-Reum and other members of the leadership team will step-up their leadership to support Jill in this role.

If you want to get together for a drink while I’m off, I’d love that, but you can’t talk about work!

Meanwhile, we say farewell to a long-time CHH staffer and community leader, Joe Black, as he reaches retirement on July 31.  His dedication to our values and to building community sets the example for everyone on our staff to follow.   We are so moved by his life work that we have changed the name of his apartment building to The Joe Black Apartments.  A first for CHH.

See you in November (if not sooner),

Christopher Persons, CEO

 

From the CEO

Doing the Math on Homelessness and Housing

Note: An earlier version of this post included a typo regarding the homeless population in Seattle. The 2015 One Night Count of homeless individuals was 10,047 for King County, not the city of Seattle. This count includes individuals in shelters or transitional housing as well as on the street. The post has been updated to reflect this change. 

Seattle’s struggle to fight homelessness is similar to the battles playing themselves out in major cities across America.  Despite our best efforts, the number of people living on the streets has risen steadily.  In Seattle, we are waking up to the full scope of the homelessness crisis: 4,505 unsheltered people were counted in January of this year, a 19% increase over last year. That doesn’t include at least 6,000 people in shelters and transitional housing.

The causes of homelessness are complex and the solution may seem impossible,  but it’s not. Like the late Bill Hobson used to say, “The solution to homelessness is not rocket science. It’s a home.” In 2014, he put the price tag of housing all the homeless at $800-$900 million.

Let’s take a look at the math. The cost of building a single unit of apartment housing in Seattle depends on a lot of factors, but $200,000 is a reasonable estimate.  At that price, housing the estimated 10,000 homeless people in King County would cost $2 billion, well beyond what Bill predicted in 2014. The sad truth is that homelessness has only grown since 2014 and the cost of building has skyrocketed. That’s the price of our inaction.

With vacancy rates at all-time lows and only a few hundred affordable apartments in the pipeline each year, it’s unrealistic to expect our existing housing stock to fill the need. The logic that a person with an addiction, living in the Jungle is suddenly going to compete in the housing market is unsound. And while sweeping people into shelters may hide the problem, it doesn’t fix it. It’s a temporary solution that doesn’t provide a platform for human growth.

We simply must build more housing.  All of it.  Ten thousand units. To do any less consigns people to the inhumane conditions of the Jungle.

Two billion dollars is a lot of money, but we regularly come together to fund solutions to the big challenges we can’t solve on our own. Two billion dollars is less than half the $4.8 billion we’re spending on a two mile long tunnel; it’s only four times more than what we would spend on a 500 million dollar basketball stadium. If we can muster the political will to build tunnels and stadiums, what will it take to summon the courage to end the inhumanity of homelessness in Seattle?

Bill Hobson was well known for saying there is no such thing as a throwaway person. He was right about that.  But truly honoring the humanity of all our neighbors, those with homes and those without, comes with a cost. The question is whether we are willing to pay it.

Christopher Persons, CEO

 

CHH and the Housing Levy

Seattle voters have a strong record of support for affordable housing at the ballot box. Since 1981, voters have approved one bond and four levies to provide money to keep the city affordable. Seattle has now funded over 12,500 affordable apartments for seniors, low- and moderate-wage workers, and formerly homeless individuals and families. Those same funds have provided homeownership assistance to more than 900 first-time low-income home buyers and emergency rental assistance to more than 6,500 households. Voters face another big choice this August.

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Gearshift: CHH Annual Community Forum

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Last Thursday, May 26th, CHH held its annual community forum. The theme this year was Gearshift. When people talk about “shifting gears” they often mean a sudden change, a shift in direction or turn in the topic of conversation. On a bicycle, shifting gears has little to do with changing direction. Shifting gears on a bike is about maintaining an optimal pedaling effort for maximum efficiency. It’s about moving on down the road without getting exhausted. Shifting gears is a metaphor for resilience, about adapting to the current landscape with all of its ups and downs.

We had an incredible line up of presenters who shared their ideas for projects that can help improve the resiliency of Capitol Hill. After the presentations, the crowd broke into small groups to discuss what they heard. We were lucky to have Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant in attendance, as well as staff from Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s team on hand to listen to community members’ ideas and concerns. They joined representatives from the mayor’s office in helping the community identify priorities and figure out what comes next.

We are working on uploading recordings of the presentations from the evening. In the meantime, catch up on some of the online conversation in the Storify below.