This past weekend, Imagine Housing hosted a tent at the third annual Kirkland Oktoberfest at Marina Park in Downtown Kirkland. This three-day event had live music, games, wiener dog races, food and of course, beer – or in German, bier. Imagine Housing was one of four non-profits that will receive a portion of sales from the event.
Staff, Board members and volunteers helped man a tent and host games of Cornhole Toss and Washer Toss. We had a great turnout at the tent and even received donations when some players decided that the losers of the tossing games would donate to Imagine Housing.
If you stopped by our tent, thanks for saying hi and we hoped you had as much fun as we did.
~Monique Vague, Philanthropy Administrator
P.S. Special thanks to the Guiler and Jowell families for loaning us the Cornhole and Washer Toss games and to Molly Heine for making us awesome Cornhole boards of our own!
Throughout the last few months I’ve been visiting our communities to meet with various families and individuals who were willing to share their story in our annual Achievement Report. Always one of my favorite times of year, this season was no different. You have the chance to read about the inspiring people who create the community of Imagine Housing in our 2014 Achievement Report, but as always, there are so many little things that don’t make it into print.
What you can’t see are the four and six year old girls running around their mom and me giggling as she bravely shares their struggle with making ends meet each month. You aren’t able to hear the urgency in Leanne’s voice as she conveys the need for more affordable housing like Velocity for her friends in the shelter. And you don’t get to watch the kids at Highland Gardens sprint into the community space to see Resident Support Coordinator, Fred, after school.
These little moments are what make my job so great. I hope you take a moment to read about our families sometime this week and as you do so, think about all the little things your support is making possible. And remember, in Leanne’s words, “Everyone has a story here.”
~ Kendra Steiner, Fund Development Manager
The creation of more affordable housing is a big deal right now across the nation. In North Carolina, a total of $23 million has recently been given to developers who will create 2,800 new affordable homes. And in Boston, where market-rate studios can sometimes cost upwards of $2,000 a month, 235 low-income housing units are getting a facelift to ensure that families can continue living in these affordable apartments. Finally, in California, funding for an additional 850 units was approved that will benefit residents living in Humboldt, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Ventura.
Looking at other areas across the nation experiencing an affordable housing shortage helps us understand our own situations and inspires us to showcase our great work for others to be inspired by as well. Imagine Housing is doing innovative things to combat the rates of homelessness on the Eastside. We are currently creating ideas and plans for projects that will include units specifically set-aside for recently homeless families and individuals. Every project we do is a vital piece of the solution to ensuring all people have a home they feel is a community.
~Megan Adams, Housing Development Associate
Last year, Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray, called for an agenda to end the housing crisis in the city. Along with the City Council, he created a stakeholder advisory committee to think about housing and affordability in the city. Resolution 31546 approved the creation of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda’s (HALA) report. HALA’s committee was made up of 28 community members including lawyers, philanthropists, renters, homeowners, for-profit and non-profit developers, and other field experts. Recently, they announced their 65 recommendations on how to end the crisis.
The report said that the 65 committee recommendations can fit into one of four categories:
- More resources for affordable housing – more subsidy, through a range of revenue generating mechanisms.
- More housing – maximizing opportunities in the market.
- More supports for communities – strategic preservation of housing and protections for vulnerable tenants and homeowners.
- More innovation – the streamlining of systems and related reforms to cut the costs of housing.
At Imagine Housing, some aspects of our work and dedication similarly feed into these four categories above. We are applying for funding to increase affordable housing options for Eastside residents and exploring innovative ways to grow our 485 existing affordable housing homes to 1,000 affordable homes in the next five years. Just like Seattle, we know there is an affordability issue in our region and we must do something to combat it so that all our neighbors have a home.
Priorities proposed by the Housing Development Consortium for 2016 include other, broader measures outside those of HALA that could benefit the Eastside in creating more affordable housing choices. We will report on these measures in the near future and ask for your support.
You can find more information on HALA at, http://murray.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/HALA_Report_2015.pdf
You can find more information on the Housing Development Consortium at http://www.housingconsortium.org/.
~Megan Adams, Housing Development Associate
I am honored to introduce myself as your new Executive Director of Imagine Housing. I look forward to working with you to deliver Imagine Housing’s mission of developing affordable housing, building welcoming communities and fostering vibrant futures. Imagine Housing offers me the opportunity to continue my work in affordable housing for my neighbors on the Eastside.
The housing affordability gap on the Eastside has widened to an affordability gulf. According to Zumper’s National Rent Report, Bellevue has the highest median rent for a one bedroom apartment in the region at $1,790, with Kirkland ($1,700) and Redmond ($1,450) closely following. This seemingly ever expanding affordability gulf not only disproportionately impacts the poorest households in our community, but is now beginning to price out working families, including essential workers like teachers and service workers that keep the Eastside vibrant.
The good news, and what I find so exciting, is that Imagine Housing is poised to respond to this critical need. As the leading non-profit affordable housing developer on the Eastside, Imagine Housing’s communities serve as a model for the Eastside. Our most recently completed development, Velocity, exemplifies this. Developed in partnership with Polygon Northwest, Velocity delivered 58 affordable apartments as part of a larger mixed-use Transit Oriented Development community located at the South Kirkland Park and Ride.
Imagine Housing’s Strategic Plan calls on us to double the number of units in our portfolio by 2020 – another 500 units! To accomplish this we will need to reach out to the community to develop support and partnerships. This will be no simple task. Only together can we accomplish this task and create an interconnected Eastside, with welcoming communities where all people can live, learn, work and play.
~ Chris Jowell, Executive Director