The following post appeared in our December edition of our monthly e-newsletter, Building Blocks. Sign up on our mailing list if you’d like to receive updates on our work!
I imagine the results of last month’s presidential election remain on many of your minds, even today. For some, this is a time of celebration, but for others these events bring fear about what the future holds.
I am reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which ring true today: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is love and light that will carry us through these times. As much as you may feel like giving up right now, we still have work to do. We have housing to build. We have community to support and nurture. We have opportunity to create and hope to engender.
At Capitol Hill Housing we welcome all. The refugee fleeing war-ravaged despair, the reformed convict hoping to embark on a new path, the young family who wants to raise kids in a vibrant, diverse neighborhood. We welcome gay and queer and lesbian and trans people. We welcome people who have physical and emotional disability. We welcome people of all races and beliefs.
I don’t feel particularly authorized to quote Dr. King, but his words, to my mind, represent the only path forward. We won’t back away from our values or stop fighting for what’s right, but we also won’t assume that others - whatever their politics – don’t share our values.
Though these are uncertain times, we have work to do. As builders of community, we play an important role in creating space for dialogue that doesn’t alienate or exclude. We also promote legislation that supports our work. One example of this is a bipartisan bill
cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell and Orrin Hatch. If passed into law, this bill will double the revenue generated by low income housing tax credits.
We recently spoke to Senator Cantwell’s office and I will be heading to Washington DC in the spring as a member of the Housing Partnership Network policy committee to advocate on behalf of all policy that impacts our work.
Chris Persons, CEO
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.
Jill Fleming, Acting CEO
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
“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