Hunger in America

On May 6th, Imagine Housing and the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank held a free film screening of Hunger in America, a documentary tackling the hunger epidemic in America, at the Issaquah High School Theatre. Over 60 community members joined us for this special event, which included a robust panel discussion after the film.

Imagine Housing Director of Supportive Services, Rachel Mathison, along with representatives from the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, Food Lifeline and Emergency Food Network of Pierce County all spoke to wide ranging effects of hunger in our own Eastside community. A few of the highlights from the discussion included:

  • Hunger is an intersectional issue and ties in greatly with housing, poverty, income inequality, etc.
    • Rachel M. touched on the point that although Imagine Housing residents have been able to obtain affordable housing, many are still at risk of not knowing where their next meal will come from. Katheryn Ryan, Policy and Research Coordinator at Food Lifeline, agreed mentioning that food is often the first item that gets cut from a family’s budget as it is the most tangible component of their monthly expenses. Rent, utilities and transportation are prioritized budget items, leaving many individuals without excess resources to buy food.
  • More than 4,500 people were served at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank just last month – which includes many of Imagine Housing Issaquah’s residents. Specifically, 15 Imagine Housing families utilize the Groceries-to-Go program at Rose Crest, Mine Hill, Johnson Hill and Andrew’s Arms, which bring groceries right to their door of those unable to make it to a grocery store or food bank.
  • In King County, 47 percent of individuals attending food pantries are veterans.

After the discussion, attendees stayed around to learn more at information tables hosted by Imagine Housing, the Issaquah Food Bank and the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank. Additionally, commitment cards were distributed to all attendees which listed ways they to make a difference in our community to fight hunger, such as hosting a food drive or donating your extra summer produce from your garden to a local food bank this summer. Another way to make a difference in our community is to host a community dinner for one of our Imagine Housing communities. If you or someone you know would be interested in hosting dinner, contact me at

~ Rachel Voelkle, Operations Coordinator

Velocity’s Green Roof

Recently, Velocity, Imagine Housing’s newest property, was featured for its living roof.  Read more about this green feature below or visit the original story here.

Growing Pride on a Roof Top at Velocity Apartment Community, Kirkland With LiveRoof Green Roof.

With a focus on forward moving healthy, sustainable lifestyles, the Velocity apartment community installs LiveRoof rooftop garden to the delight of community residents.

LiveRoof Living Roof at Velocity Apartment

KIRKLAND, Washington (PRWEB) May 12, 2015

To Imagine Housing, ‘”Velocity” isn’t just a trendy name for their new apartment community but an embodiment of the concept of moving forward. Velocity, and its neighbor Kirkland Crossing developed by Polygon NW, are located at the South Kirkland Park and Ride, just blocks from Lake Washington Boulevard. The new community was designed with the residents and environment in mind by using technology to incorporate interaction, health and sustainability.

“Our vision for Velocity was to create a living, moving community for the area’s low income families to take an active role in their health as well as community sustainability,” said Sibyl Glasby, Director of Housing Development for Imagine Housing. “The living green roof is a sustainable green feature that also provides a beautiful outdoor space for our residents.”

Imagine Housing chose the LiveRoof® Hybrid Green Roof System for their 6,140-square foot living garden that includes walking paths, seating and a gas BBQ. The vegetative roof provides significant benefits to the environment including reducing water run-off and turbidity into the storm water system. The green roof was designed by Fazio Associates Landscape Architect and installed by Greening America. Using drought-tolerant native and adaptive plants and locally-sourced engineered soil, the modular living roof was grown to full maturity by GreenFeathers, Inc. of Cornelius, OR.

“We are pleased to have participated in this important housing community,” said Grace Dinsdale, founder and president, Blooming Nursery and GreenFeathers. “We provided fully-mature native plants grown in locally-sourced engineered soil for the Velocity living roof. Not only did this provide a beautiful, lush garden for residents to enjoy immediately, it also contributes to the sustainability of Velocity’s site.”

Velocity offers onsite parking, ready access to transportation, bicycle storage and repair station, a vibrant community area/library with a coffee house feel, a fully-equipped exercise center, and a roof top garden with walking paths, seating and a gas barbeque. A rooftop community room hosts a variety of activities and services designed to enhance our residents’ lives and promote opportunity for engagement within the community.

Velocity meets Evergreen standards for energy efficiency, saving valuable resources and contributing to a clean planet. The homes have been built with both the residents and sustainability in mind, achieving a balance between modern finishes and long-term durability with environmentally friendly materials. The housing development was designed according to Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED®) standards. LiveRoof systems can influence several LEED credits in areas of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. Due to potential cost impacts, the project did not pursue LEED accreditation.

Velocity is located at 10711 NE 37th Court, Kirkland, WA 98033

About LiveRoof® Global, LLC
LiveRoof Global, LLC ( is the horticultural science company that developed the LiveRoof® Hybrid System, whose natural function and natural beauty offer the highest level of green roof performance at the lowest level acquisition-installation-maturation-maintenance costs. Combining the best elements of proven green roof technologies, LiveRoof establishes a seamless vegetative surface rooted in a continuous layer of soil. This design maximizes environmental benefits, energy savings and rooftop aesthetics. Regional growers in its global network adapt LiveRoof plants for local conditions and customize plant selection for every project. The proof is on the roof showcased in LiveRoof projects that stand out as signature elements on commercial, public, university and school buildings throughout the globe.

Project Unbreakable

Statistics show that one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have experienced some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime.  Some of these people live at our properties right now.  We know this because they have chosen to share their stories with our team.

project unbreakableStable housing is incredibly important for survivors.  It takes a person an average of seven times before they can successfully leave an abusive relationship.  Once they do they often end up in shelters or other temporary programs providing a few nights in a hotel.  Often these people have to completely start their lives over – a new job, a new school, new friends, and sometimes even having to move across county or state lines.  Places like Imagine Housing give people a chance.  We provide permanent housing and support that can help with stability and success.  People are allowed to keep their kids in the same school, kids are allowed to make friendships that last and parents are able to raise their children in a constant environment.

The stability and support that permanent housing provides can also be key in breaking the isolation that many survivors feel.  We can provide referrals to organizations in the community such as LifeWire that have counseling, supports groups, and legal assistance.  Survivors begin to meet others who have experienced similar relationships and patterns of behavior – this lets them know they are not alone.

Recently I heard about a photography exhibition called Project Unbreakable.  Three years ago a photography student started a project capturing survivors taking power back by giving voice to the words they had heard from their abusers.  This is also helping to break the silence and isolation around intimate partner violence.

Below is a video with more information about the project.  Note: Some material may be inappropriate for children, parental guidance suggested.

To learn more about Project Unbreakable visit,

~ Lindley King, Resident Support Specialist

The best kept secret…

Pretty much everyone on the Imagine Housing staff is used to it. The conversation goes something like this;

“Where do you work?”

“Imagine Housing – we develop affordable housing on the Eastside and provide services for the residents.”

“Really? On the Eastside?”

“Yes! It’s amazing how many people who work on the Eastside and can’t afford to live there!”

 “Yeah, I guess that makes sense… but what did you say the name of your organization was?”

For 28 years, Imagine Housing, previously known as The St. Andrews Housing Group, has been one of the best kept secrets on the Eastside. With 13 multi-family buildings in Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah and Mercer Island, Imagine Housing provides 485 permanent rental homes for families and individuals with low incomes. Our nine support services staff members help ensure that the residents receive the assistance they need to thrive and enjoy vibrant futures here on the Eastside.

Even with our success, the critical need for more homes drives us further. Working together, the Board of Directors and staff developed a new five year Strategic Plan that sets us up for aggressive growth through the year 2020. The hallmark goal of this plan is to double the number of permanent apartment homes we currently have in our portfolio. Given the increased competition for federal funding available for affordable housing, we need a great deal of help to achieve this objective.

It’s time for the secret to get out.

During the GiveBIG Campaign this year, we asked our supporters to consider something other than giving during the one day event. We asked them to share Imagine Housing with their friends and family.

If you “ShareBIG” with your friends and associates, the secret will get out:  Imagine Housing provides a solution to the affordable housing crisis on the Eastside. We have a plan to significantly increase the amount of housing available for families and individuals with the lowest incomes in our community – and we want you to be a part of it!

Make it a goal to share the Imagine Housing story with five of your friends this May. Then, point them to our website for more information. Together, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home.

~ Gary Helling, Interim Executive Director

Together, we all truly can make a difference

A few weeks ago I was going through final expenses and receipts for the 2015 Imagine Auction and my energy went through the roof after I hit they sum formula in my excel Auction budget.  It’s hard to believe that a spreadsheet can give you so much joy, but it did when I found that together we raised more than $495,000!

For someone like me, final numbers have always been the way I’ve judged whether something was successful.  In high school and college I looked at myself and asked – did I get a 95 or higher on my math test?  Did I get an A on my English paper?  Did I graduate at the top of the class?  Now, I so often fall into reviewing my year of work in terms of how many people came to our events and how much money was raised compared to what we budgeted.  This method has for the most part served me well, but it also means that at times I miss out on the small joys because I’m so focused on the outcome.

But this event was different for me and I have to give the credit for changing my perception to our resident speaker, Michelle.  I was introduced to Michelle in January and was immediately blown away.  Her resident support specialist had told me after our first meeting, “Kendra, you rarely meet people who you just know are going to change the world, but I know that Michelle will.”  And she was right, because what Michelle shared on stage the night of the Auction didn’t just educate people on the need for supportive affordable housing for domestic violence survivors, it inspired a movement.

As I stood at the back of the room following her speech, I was overwhelmed with pride.  I wasn’t proud of the glass blown centerpieces or the video that went off without a hitch; I was proud that I get to work for an organization that has residents like Michelle and provides them the platform to inspire change.  Michelle received a standing ovation and within five minutes I was letting out very loud and unprofessional, “Whoop whoops” as I saw a room of 450 community members generously donate $173,770.

So as we close out four months of hard work on this event, I want to take a moment to say thank you.  Thank you Michelle, for being courageous and sharing your personal journey with a room full of strangers.  Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your storytelling process and for giving me renewed enthusiasm for my work.  Thank you to my colleagues who adjust schedules, work long hours and continuously fill the M&M jar in my office.  Thank you to our procurement team who tirelessly gathered and donated nearly 300 items to the auction itself.  And thank you to those who came to be a part of the evening and filled the room with laughter and generosity.

We couldn’t have done this without such a supportive community. As Michelle said, together, we all truly can make a difference.

Read an excerpt of Michelle’s speech here:

“It’s not just me getting support.  It’s my kids, one of who is here tonight to see me in this moment of empowerment.  My kids, who have only known a life of domestic violence until now.  Because it’s more than them just being safe.  It’s about my kids having consistency of not just a home, but an entire environment.  It’s the fact that they have for the first time been in the same school from the beginning of the school year to the end.  It’s about peace and a sense of community.  It’s about helping them to break down the barriers they’ve spent their entire lives building, like forming new relationships that they hadn’t trusted in before because they didn’t know if we would be here tomorrow.  It’s about their sense of insecurity evolving into a sense of security…

Imagine Housing is providing so much more than safe stable housing to our communities.  They provide individualized guidance and encouragement to the residents that lead us to feeling empowered. Our communities are strengthened as a whole because they took the time to discover the needs of the residents and then stepped up to the plate and provided them. It was through the dedication and genuine care shown by Imagine Housing that I am standing here tonight with an inner strength and a belief in myself that I have never had before.”

~Kendra Steiner, Annual Fund Manager