In this issue: What we’re doing to address homelessness, groundbreakings, our CEO search – and more!
We are thrilled to share that Bellwether Housing broke ground on our second development in as many weeks. Yesterday, we gathered in the parking lot of 1511 Dexter Avenue (Seattle) to celebrate as we begin construction on Anchor Flats. This is our first development off South Lake Union and it will provide 71 affordable apartments to individuals and families – all close to downtown. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien attended and shared a few words about the importance of this particular building, the first affordable apartment building in this area. Both were joined by more than fifty other supporters
Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Bellwether Housing’s Real Estate Development Program Manager, Becky Bicknell, Bellwether Housing’s Director of Real Estate, Susan Boyd, Brian Runberg, Principal of Runberg Architecture Group, and Harry Matsumoto, Vice Chair of the Bellwether Housing Board unearth affordable housing in South Lake
This groundbreaking was also a celebration of a novel tool that Bellwether created, resulting in a new approach to funding affordable housing. Anchor Flats is the second development supported by Seattle’s Future Fund, a tool we launched in 2014. $1.9 million has been raised from local, socially motivated investors to finance the construction of Anchor Flats and many were in attendance. “These investors will receive a modest financial return and will know that their investment is helping to create an inclusive community in which all people can thrive,” explained Susan Boyd, Bellwether’s Director of Real Estate Development.
Yesterday marked a turning point for Bellwether. We purchased this parking lot in 2011. For five years, we have been focused on transforming this it into something that can be so much more. The wait is over. Anchor Flats is slated to open its doors in March of 2018.
See more about our groundbreaking here:
After four years of persistence and hard work, we celebrated the groundbreaking of our first property in Seattle’s University District. This would not have been possible without the equally-determined members of University Christian Church (UCC): it was this congregation that sold the property (a parking lot and adjacent land across the street from the church) to us below-market rate and made this a reality.
75 supporters came together in UCC’s lounge to acknowledge the significance of the day and to celebrate what’s to come. Bellwether’s Chair Elect, Harry Matsumoto, welcomed all and expressed the excitement he – and the Bellwether team felt – to be able to kick-off construction. Mr. Matsumoto was followed by UCC’s Reverend Dr. Adam Harmon who led a prayer of thanks. Speakers included Bellwether’s Director of Real Estate Development, Susan Boyd, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and church member/spokesperson, Marsha Tolon.
“This building, Arbora Court, will be the largest that Bellwether has ever constructed. 133 units, including many family-sized units and large indoor and outdoor community and play spaces,” said Susan Boyd. Ms. Boyd continued, “Of course [we] don’t get to this point in a development without an enormous amount of support.” This project would not be possible “without the vision and commitment of this wonderful faith community.”
Mayor Murray expressed that, “homelessness is an international crisis”. He then continued, “it’s important to remember that good things are happening to change this crisis. Arbora [Court] is one of those things.”
Arbora Court will provide safe, affordable homes and will support families transitioning out of homelessness. This mattered to University Christian Church. Marsha Tolon shared some of the story of how the Church came to the decision to dedicate its property for this purpose. “The early realization of this dream started in 1961. The congregation’s vision was to build affordable housing in the University District to support our most vulnerable in this community.” In March 2018 this vision will be realized.
The celebration closed with a symbolic “groundbreaking”. Guests wrote their wishes for the people who will find a home at Arbora Court on a paper leaf and attached it to an art installation. This artwork will be placed in the building lobby to welcome new residents to their homes.
Creating, Preserving, Pioneering, and Leading: read more highlights from 2015 in our most recent annual report.
In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share a few green features of our upcoming projects at 1511 Dexter and Arbora Court.
Both buildings will have low-flow water fixtures, LED lighting and occupancy sensors and high efficiency central hot water heating. We are excited to see the tangible results to Bellwether’s triple bottom line: reduced operating costs for the building, reduced costs to residents and reduced energy and water consumption.
You can learn more about both of these developments here.
We have been engaged by DESC to provide development services for their Estelle Supportive Housing project, to be located in the Rainier Valley, a few blocks south of the McClellan light rail station. The building will include 91 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless men and women living with disabilities. The project will also dedicate one floor for high quality on-site health care to be provided by Harborview Medical Center. Approximately 15 apartments will be allocated for people exiting the hospital with healthcare needs who can’t be served in conventional residential care systems.
Construction is expected to begin in September 2016 with completion by the fall of 2017.
Late last fall, Providence Health & Services started construction on a 75-unit senior housing project in downtown Redmond – near services, transit, and other necessities. Named John Gabriel House after nursing pioneer Sister John Gabriel, the building will offer studios, one, and two-bedroom affordable apartments to adults age 62 and older with incomes at 30%, 40% and 60% of the Area Median Income. In addition, the building will provide a PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) health and wellness center which emphasizes healthy, independent living. Bellwether is honored to support Providence with construction management and advisory services in responding to the critical need for affordable housing and health care for lower-income seniors in King County.
The foundations have now been poured, and occupancy is anticipated for March 2017.
You can learn more about this project on Providence’s website.
On March 4th, Seattle lost a great humanitarian and ally to the homeless. Bill Hobson, former director of Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), dedicated over 30 years of his life fighting to ensure that the most marginalized and forgotten segments of society have the resources they need to lead a quality life.
Hobson was outspoken and unwavering in his belief that stable, supportive housing forms the foundation from which people can begin to address personal challenges such as addiction and mental illness. Under his leadership, DESC helped pioneer the Housing First model, a nationally recognized approach to ending homelessness that centers on housing people as quickly as possible – and then providing services as needed.
Bellwether was fortunate to partner with Hobson and the DESC team on several projects including Aurora House, Canaday House , Kerner Scott House, the Morrison and Rainier House. “Bill was a colleague and friend. I admired and supported his consistent and uncompromising commitment to helping people who struggle with homelessness and multiple other challenges,” said Sarah Lewontin, Bellwether executive director 2004-2015.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s family, friends and the entire DESC community.