Resident Spotlight: Myrtle

Myrtle remembers walking by the El Nor when she was a little girl living in the Central District. “I remember the women working with their flowers and veggies,” she recalls, alluding to the large, beautiful resident garden, “it was always here.”

Myrtle refers to herself as a “CD Baby” – she grew up here, raised her family here, and later, retired here. She’s seen a lot of changes in those times – buildings torn down, new people moving in, seniors and families getting pushed out. And yet, Myrtle hasn’t let that discourage her. She still feels a strong sense of community in the neighborhood, and even greets newcomers with a friendly “welcome to the CD!”

Nonetheless, she feels lucky to be able to continue living in the Central District. With rising rents and skyrocketing housing prices, she considers her home at Capitol Hill Housing’s 55-unit El Nor building for seniors to be a “blessing.” With a monthly rent she can afford on her fixed income, she is able to stay in her community where she knows everybody and has a strong social network, close to family and resources. Myrtle talks passionately about the bingo nights, the garden, and even regular outings that contribute to a strong sense of community within her building, where she knows her neighbors and feels safe and well cared for.

“We all have so much we can learn from one another,” she says, referring to both her neighbors and other community members. “It’s great to be able to share our histories.”

Despite all this, Myrtle says she is ready to move on. While her apartment is cozy, it is too small to comfortably host guests. And with her daughter and two grandchildren living close by, Myrtle would love to be able to have them over for dinner, and have a place for her grandson to sleep when he comes to visit. Myrtle hopes she can find this in the new apartments being built by Capitol Hill Housing at the Liberty Bank Building, at the site of the historic Liberty Bank.

“I opened my first bank account at Liberty Bank when I was 16,” Myrtle recalls. “It would feel like coming full circle to be able to live in a place with so much historic meaning.”

Looking back, Myrtle is proud of how far she’s come. She has a home, her family is doing well, and she is dedicated to using her life to make a difference for the younger generation. “I’ve struggled, my family’s struggled,” she says, “but I’m blessed to be where I am now, to have a home here in my ‘little sanctuary.’”

Resident Spotlight: Bill Hall

Bill has lived in the Cal Anderson House for 20 years, his story entwined with the city and the history of AIDS in Seattle. 

Bill first learned he was HIV-positive in 1986 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1992.  At the time, he had been living in Reno, a city he loved, but one without many services for people living with this disease.  His doctor suggested he moved somewhere with more services, but the wait time for care in places like New York City or San Francisco was sometimes years long.  Seattle, on the other hand, could offer him the support he needed immediately.

Bill recalls how the Seattle community opened its heart to people with HIV. “If you were diagnosed, and you had the ability to travel, you moved to Seattle,” he says. Seattle had support groups, doctors, transitional housing, meals, and hospice care. Most importantly, it had community. Bill became involved in the Bailey-Boushay House, a local organization that primarily offered hospice care to those affected with the disease, but also support groups and resources for those recently diagnosed.

Shortly after his arrival, AIDS Housing of Washington (now Building Changes) came to the Boushay House to discuss housing needs and opportunities for the community.  Bill joined a focus group, where the idea to create an independent living complex for those living with AIDS was introduced.  There seemed to be great support for the idea, but after the focus group disbanded, Bill didn’t know what became of the project.

Bill eventually found a home in the Rainier Valley, commuting 50 minutes by bus for treatment at Harborview Medical Center multiple times a week. Following one of his appointments, Bill was walking down Broadway when he saw a sign advertising the future home of “the state’s first independent housing for people living with HIV/AIDS.” He immediately called his social worker – it turned out this was the same project he participated in a focus group for and they were now accepting applications.

The “opportunity to live people going through the same things you are” was too important to pass up.  When he heard from the Northwest Aids Foundation (now Lifelong AIDS Alliance) who owned the building at the time that he was accepted, he was ecstatic and immediately started making plans to move.

The building was opened in 1994 at a ceremony attended by the mayor and Cal Anderson, at the time the state’s only openly gay legislator who himself had AIDs.  Bill was the second resident to move in and has called the building home ever since.  He loves the location: close to Harborview and other services, and how it feels safe and welcoming to live in a community with people who are going through similar life experiences.  Bill says many people feel this way, and few choose to leave once they move in.  In over 20 years of living at the Cal, Bill can only remember two people who have left (though, sadly, many have passed away due to their illness).

Bill is an integral member of the community. Before his health got too bad, he worked for Plymouth Housing, was a regular attendee at building meetings and events, and volunteered for a number of local organizations.  Just last year, he was nominated by Plymouth for his dedication to the community and rewarded with a beautiful handmade quilt from Seattle Modern Quilter’s Guild.

Bill loves his home and is thankful for the comfort and support it offers. He hopes to build a greater sense of community among his neighbors and elevate the specific needs of residents, a goal shared by Capitol Hill Housing, which took over management of the building from Plymouth Housing in 2016.

Bill points out that the Cal Anderson is a lot more than just an apartment building for residents, it’s their home. When so many aspects of their life are so challenging, having a safe, welcoming place to return to is invaluable.

NEAR: Navigating Employment with Assistance & Resources

This new program supports CHH residents with one-on-one mentorship from professionals in the Seattle community by providing personalized and encouraging guidance on residents’ job and career goals.

In a mentor session, volunteers will review and assess resident interests, skills, work history and employment goals. Residents will develop their interests, learn what opportunities are available in their field of interest/skill, polish their resume building skills, prepare for the interview process, and gain assistance in applying for opportunities. Mentor sessions are designed to provide personalized and individual services, where the resident is at the helm and the volunteer is a navigator.

If you are a CHH resident interested in enrolling, or if you’re interested in volunteering as a mentor, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@capitolhillhousing.org.

Resident board member position

CHH is seeking a resident to serve on the organization’s Board of Directors. This is a volunteer position helping guide the vision and strategy for the organization. In order to keep a strong connection to the communities we serve, one of
the Capitol Hill Housing Board of Directors seats is to be occupied by a current resident that meets the qualifications.

Download the qualifications here.

Download the nomination form here. 

Nominations will be accepted until August 7, 2015.

Thank you for giving BIG

BIG thanks from all of us here at Capitol Hill Housing!
We received over $47,000 during the GiveBIG online giving campaign, including nearly $10,000 in first-time gifts. We will also receive a $10,000 challenge grant, in addition to stretch funds from Seattle Foundation.
This support from our generous community will allow us to expand our Resident Services program to even more of the families who call a Capitol Hill Housing apartment home.

 

Providing homes – creating great communities

We are very proud of our buildings – both the character properties that we have preserved and dramatic new construction. But the real reason we do what we do is to provide homes for our neighbors and to create great communities.

In 2012 we opened our 44th building, the Jefferson, in the Central District – welcoming 40 new households to the neighborhood. Three of the first residents to move in were Nicole and Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy and their 15-month-old daughter Vivienne.

Nicole recently completed her Bachelor’s degree and works for the Seattle Alehouses, travelling between Columbia City and Queen Anne. Ben works as a security guard at the Frye Art Museum and is a musician in a number of Seattle bands.

Before finding the Jefferson, they lived in a small one bedroom apartment on Capitol Hill. It was a tight fit for two. Once Vivienne arrived, it was vital that they find a home where a toddler could have room to grow. But affordable homes in central Seattle are few and far between – especially homes that are clean, safe, and quiet.

By providing affordable and high quality housing to families like Nicole and Benjamin’s, we ensure that central Seattle and all Seattle remain vibrant and diverse, and we help our residents to have more spendable income to meet their needs.

GiveBIG on May 15: Donate to CHH through the Seattle Foundation website on May 15, 2013 to support our Resident Services program, which works to build community for all CHH residents.

Join CHH at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

Monday, February 11, 2013
8am – 3pm

At the State Capitol in Olympia

Join CHH staff, residents, and other advocates as we urge our elected officials to increase access to affordable housing and to protect services that prevent and end homelessness.

Attendance is free; suggested donation is $20.

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Transportation may be arranged.

RSVP: to Ashley Palar, CHH’s Resident Services Coordinator at 206-204-3808 or apalar@capitolhillhousing.org.

For more info on Advocacy Day, check out the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

Artist and resident Andi Dean

Photographer Andi Dean is one of the many artists who call a Capitol Hill Housing apartment home.

Andi currently specializes in food photography. She recently graduated from Seattle Central Creative Academy, successfully completing their intensive photography program. She has created stunning photos for local food purveyors as well as for her own portfolio.

At her portfolio show, Andi expressed gratitude at the opportunity to live in an affordable home, which she says has helped enable her to pursue her craft.

“Living here is a big part of what has made this possible.”
-Andi Dean

See more of Andi’s work at her website: andidean.com.

More than a building

Unity Village of White Center, Capitol Hill Housing’s 43rd building, opened in November 2011 and is now home to 30 families from diverse backgrounds. On a recent visit, CHH staff was delighted to see so many residents and their children gardening together and enjoying the green space. It reminds us all that Unity Village is much more than just a building – it’s a place to call home.

View more photos at Unity Village on our Facebook page.

We believe that everyone should be able to have an affordable, quality home. Read more about how Capitol Hill Housing is helping to create and maintain homes for our low-income neighbors throughout central Seattle.