Farewell to Cindy

With my last day at Imagine Housing quickly approaching, I am both excited to move on to new, unknown adventures and sad that I’m leaving a great organization. When I came to work at Imagine Housing three and a half years ago, I was looking for an organization with a mission in which I could connect. My prior employer left me very disenchanted with my work and I thought a mission-based job might be a good fit. What a breath of fresh air it was to encounter the caring and respectful people at Imagine Housing who are so passionate about their work! I have to admit, I was a bit guarded at first because I’d never seen such a thing in the workplace, which told me I’d been in the wrong place for quite a while.

My time here has allowed me to learn so many new things, experience staff act in such kind ways and show compassion to our residents as I’d never seen. My co-workers have taught me to be more patient, tolerant and kind to others, and I’ve grown so much as a person. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to work with wonderful people and a wonderful organization and that I felt so encouraged to continue working here because of all the great things we do for our neighbors on the Eastside.

It’s not easy to say goodbye, so I won’t. I’ll be following Imagine Housing to see what great things are done and you’ll likely see me back at the auction volunteering next year. Keep up the good work and always remember to be kind to one another.

~Cindy McKee, Accounting Associate

Welcome Soren!

As a recent college graduate, I was conflicted about exactly what I wanted to do with my life after graduation. I have a myriad of interests, most of which involve some creative element. In college I majored in writing, but I took dozens of art classes including photography, ceramics, and painting. I cook every single day—sometimes three times a day (mostly because I love to eat, and bring people together). Summer time is my favorite season; I could basically live outside and be completely content. To be honest, I have always had so many hobbies I found it difficult to decide what I wanted to do with my life.

When I started volunteering feeding the homeless population in downtown Reno, NV during high school, I found the greatest personal satisfaction I have ever felt. I just never knew how to translate my love for volunteering into a career. My desire to help others, paired with an affinity to create—anything and everything—left me feeling that I had no concrete direction as I faced the post-college world. Then I applied for the job of Veterans’ Activity Coordinator for Andrew’s Glen. I had never heard of Imagine Housing, but I loved the idea of working for a nonprofit that provided housing to those in need.

I not only come from a family of veterans, I also come from a background of homelessness and family hardships. When I was a baby, my mother lived on the streets of Seattle with two small children under her care. It was through sheer perseverance and the kindness of strangers that my mother put herself through nursing school. That is why Imagine Housing was so appealing to me, because I understand how important programs like this are for our community. I am grateful that I have this chance to help people that are now where my family and I have been. I am also excited about being able to utilize my many skills and hobbies to inspire the residents of Andrew’s Glen to learn, to express, to create, to laugh, and ultimately to come together as a community.

I was so excited after the first interview that I went home and wrote out a list of 41 ideas for possible activities, and immediately emailed it to the Beth—the Resident Support Supervisor at Andrew’s Glen. This job inspired me so much that I hoped they would be able to utilize my ideas regardless of whether I was hired. Being able to create a fun and inclusive community environment for the residents of Andrew’s Glen is such a rewarding prospect for me. The Pacific Northwest has so much beauty and possibility to offer, I can’t wait to share that with my new community. My only hope is that the residents of Andrew’s Glen are equally rewarded by this experience. When it’s all said and done, I am here for them.

~Soren Browning, Activities Coordinator

National Equal Pay Day

April 12th marks the 20th anniversary of National Equal Pay Day.  It was created in 1996 as a public awareness event to demonstrate the gap between men and women’s wages.  According to a 2015 Census report, women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.  The National Women’s Law Center reported that in 2012, the median earnings of American women working full time year-round were $37,791 versus men who earn a median income of $49,398.

The United States has the largest number of homeless women among industrial nations, and the highest number on record since the Great Depression.  Of the 42 million Americans living in poverty in 2011, 25 million, or 55 percent, were women. 

Research sponsored by Wider Opportunities for Women indicates that the biggest barriers to economic security for women are that they lack access to career paths that result in high-wage jobs and affordable housing options.

At Imagine Housing, we often witness the challenges of our residents to find jobs paying a livable wage that enable them to provide for their families and selves while maintaining housing.  Common barriers to housing such as debt, poor credit, past evictions, or criminal history do not solely impact women.  But when our female residents are earning less income with which to tackle their student loans or car payments, to buy groceries, or to pay rent, then it is clear that unequal pay disproportionately affects lower income households.

Let’s all work to provide women, with equal pay for equal work, and housing opportunities that are safe and affordable for them and their families. We all benefit from having our communities enriched by the economic empowerment of women.

~Beth Monkarsh, Resident Support Supervisor

Sen. Cantwell Pushing for More Funding to Build Affordable

Imagine Housing develops communities by using money from what are called Low Income Housing Tax Credits. We call this money “LIHTC” or “Tax Credits”. A project receives credits and then sells them for money to investors. Some projects are set up to receive around $5 million and others could receive $20 million. Each project is unique and the process to receive credits can be competitive.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states, “The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today.”

Senator Cantwell has launched her national campaign to make a stance for increasing the amount of tax credits available for affordable housing development by 50 percent. The campaign is a challenge, but as she said at the launch, “…housing is a big challenge.” If the campaign is successful, it will be the most significant update in the 30-year history of LIHTC.

One of the most important aspects for Imagine Housing of Senator Cantwell’s launch is the argument stressing the importance of setting more appropriate income levels for projects. Currently, the requirements do not allow for much mixing of income levels. However, when a project is allowed to mix a greater diversity of income levels, the project is more likely to be self-sustaining for a longer period of time–providing homes and community for deeper ranges of affordability.

While we like Senator Cantwell’s launch, we are excited to hear a push for what LIHTC calls a “basis boost”. Basically, if a project can get a “basis boost” when going after funding, it is more likely to be successfully financed because the project would then need less debt. Senator Cantwell proposes to give projects these “basis boosts” if projects serve extremely low-income households and individuals.

Last December, Senator Cantwell also led an effort to secure better financing for some LIHTC projects. Thank you Senator Cantwell!

To read more about Senator Cantwell’s campaign, read here.

~Megan Adams, Housing Development Associate

World Water Day is March 22nd

It’s easy to forget that water is scarce in many places around the world as we have it readily available in our homes and offices. Let’s use this year’s Water Day, March 22nd, to learn more about the efficient use of water. Here are some water facts to start:

  • Five hundred sheets of paper requires 1,321 gallons of water.
  • One pound of chocolate requires 3,170 gallons of water.
  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year.
  • A person can live about a month without food, but only a week without water.
  • There have been 265 recorded incidences of water conflicts from 3,000BC to 2012.

Source: http://www.seametrics.com/blog/water-facts/

I hope you will take some time to think about ways you can conserve more water this Water Day.

Thank you!

~Agazi Zewde, Resident Support Specialist