Happy Thanksgiving! What We are Thankful for

Sharon Lee, Yemi Jackson Fleming, Tina Fleming, Nate Miles, and Melinda Nichols, at the opening of George Fleming Place.
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Dear Friends of LIHI,
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Happy Thanksgiving! We have much to be thankful for:
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This year, thanks to our flexible and creative funding partners, we have achieved the goal of 3,000 affordable units under ownership or management. We have also added six new Tiny House Villages, for a total of 16 villages, including first villages in Bellingham and Skyway. With our recent purchase of a hotel, we also operate over 300 enhanced shelter beds.
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We recently celebrated the opening of 106 units at George Fleming Place. Tomorrow, we start construction on Nesbit Family Housing, 104 units for families, singles and veterans, including 12 units for homeless households. This north Seattle location is on the rapid ride bus line, close to Greenlake, North Seattle College, employment and amenities.
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I am thankful to you, our wonderful supporters, who have been amazingly generous even as your own lives continue to be impacted by the pandemic.
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I am thankful to our tremendous staff, who have adjusted and improvised well throughout the pandemic, so that we can continue to serve our residents and unsheltered neighbors whose lives have gotten even more challenging.
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I am thankful to our dedicated volunteers who have also adjusted and improvised in finding ways to have safe work parties building and painting tiny houses. Some groups are building tiny houses in their driveways!
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I am very thankful to our public and private sector partners who have embraced and supported our work as vital to the health and housing needs of people in Washington.
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Please consider a gift on Giving Tuesday or any time during the holiday season.
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or mail check made out to “LIHI” to:
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LIHI Fund Dev.
1253 S. Jackson St. Suite A
Seattle, WA 98144
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Warmest wishes of the season to you and your family,
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Sharon Lee
Executive Director

LIHI’s 30 Years: Reaching 3,000 Units Milestone!

Join LIHI’s Virtual Gala Now through Nov. 14!

Dear Friends,
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30 years ago, Frank Chopp and I decided to create LIHI, a new organization that would focus on innovative solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis. We saw an opportunity for a new housing nonprofit that would tackle situations that were too complicated, too cutting edge (or controversial), or not a good fit for traditional housing organizations. In 1994 we “spun off” the housing development department from Fremont Public Association (which later became Solid Ground) to merge with LIHI. I became LIHI’s founding Executive Director.
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From acquiring our very first building in 1991, LIHI has grown to own 3,049 affordable units (70 properties) serving a multiracial and diverse population of families, singles, seniors, BIPOC, immigrant/refugees and formerly homeless people. We are now one of the largest nonprofit housing organizations in Seattle and the region. We work in seven counties.
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Locally, LIHI is the second largest provider of enhanced shelters for homeless people with 630 tiny houses in 16 villages plus 235 shelter beds. If not for LIHI’s permanent supportive housing and enhanced shelters, over 2,000 people would be homeless on the streets.
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The first building LIHI purchased was the Aloha Inn on Queen Anne. We converted a motel into 57 units of self-managed transitional housing in partnership with Catholic Community Services and SHARE, a grassroots organization comprised of homeless people. The Aloha Inn resolved a political problem for former Mayor Norm Rice of where to relocate a large group of homeless people who were sleeping in a Metro bus barn by Seattle Center.
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After a group of housing activists, Operation Homestead, and homeless people occupied and took over a vacant SRO building in downtown Seattle to protest the loss of low-income housing, LIHI worked with Uncle Bob Santos to broker a deal with the building’s owner. We turned the vacant dilapidated building into Arion Court, providing permanent housing for 36 homeless veterans and other homeless people.
Arion Court while occupied by Operation Homestead
These early experiences helped shape a philosophy for me, the Board, and staff to fight for Housing as a Human Right. LIHI’s greatest strength is our commitment to social justice through our housing development, our many partnerships and our advocacy work. We continue to serve as a catalyst for change in preserving low-income housing; fighting against gentrification and displacement; working for racial justice and equitable development; and developing housing for people that are not being served by the market.
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Our innovations—where we push the envelop—include tiny house villages, which have become a national movement. Our Urban Rest Stops, which provide essential hygiene facilities, enriches the lives of thousands of homeless people each year. LIHI’s many award winning buildings, close to transit and amenities, show that low-income housing can be assets in the community and great places for our residents to call home.
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One thing homeless people want is to be clean, so we opened an Urban Rest Stop (URS) downtown in 2001 for restrooms, showers and laundry and other services for people experiencing homelessness like foot care and vaccinations. With clean clothes and a shower you can get and keep a job, you can be successful at an interview for an apartment. Until recently we operated a second URS in the University District, and we opened a third URS in Ballard in 2015.
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LIHI’s model of Tiny House Villages have grown by leaps and bounds. We should have thought of tiny houses sooner! We now pursue more villages with a passion as these are a crisis response to homelessness and the pandemic. We share our knowledge of tiny houses with others, and to our delight, many villages have been set up across the country!
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Tiny houses are great for people currently living in tents, in parks and cars. The villages provide people with a safe and restorative place to live. Tiny houses provide a place to rest, to heal, to take a breath, to think and make a plan. The villages have case managers who help with life’s basics, housing placements, employment, and more complicated things like getting a new ID when you have no documents.  The villages also provide an important sense of community.  We have the highest rate of placement into long term housing compared with other forms of shelter.
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So here we are at 30 years! We are very proud of our history—yet there is so much work still to do to create a future where thousands more have a home.
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We are celebrating LIHI’s 30th Anniversary with a Virtual Gala to raise funds for the future of Urban Rest Stops and Tiny House Villages so we can continue and expand these programs. The Gala is virtual and runs through November 14, so attend at your convenience. There are some fun items to bid on and an opportunity to donate. View the short video on LIHI that includes Rep. Frank Chopp, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, Melinda Nichols of the LIHI Board and villagers.
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Please join us!
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In Solidarity!
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Sharon Lee
Executive Director
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Join the Virtual Gala Now!

Bidding Open! LIHI Virtual Gala & Auction

Join the Virtual Gala Now!

We are excited to invite you to attend our Virtual Gala & Auction right now! Watch our short Gala Video, bid on fun and exciting auction items (see pics below), and donate from now through November 14th.
 (Rocking Harley)
The Virtual Gala & Auction is LIHI’s main fundraiser for 2021. It supports Tiny Houses, Urban Rest Stops and Supportive Services. These crucial direct services help homeless people right now.
(Bowl by Artist Matthew Patton)
Tiny House Villages in Seattle, Skyway, Tacoma, Olympia, and Bellingham provide homeless individuals and families with safe, private, warm shelter in a secure village setting. Case Managers have a great record of moving villagers into permanent housing.
(Tuxedo Cake from Macrina)
The Urban Rest Stops provide a clean, safe and welcoming facility in downtown Seattle and Ballard where individuals and families can use restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities at no cost to them. A shower and clean laundry is basic human dignity and can help homeless people obtain and keep jobs and housing while improving their health.
(El Gaucho and AQUA gift certificate)
Supportive Services are critically needed (with winter and the pandemic) to keep people safe and to ensure that families and individuals can access the necessary services.
(Dooney & Bourke Bag)
If you are unable to attend the Virtual Gala & Auction, you can donate now or send a check made out to “LIHI” to:
LIHI Gala
1253 S. Jackson St. Suite A
Seattle, WA 98144
(Harry & David’s Gift Basket)

Welcome to the Gala from LIHI Board President Joe Abreu & Thank You Gala Sponsors!

I first encountered LIHI in 2013 as a volunteer during a Home Depot day of service where we built garden planters for the veterans at LIHI’s McDermott Place. There I connected with longtime LIHI board member and master carpenter Melinda Nichols, who was having her initial inspirations about tiny houses. LIHI had just offered to host the Nickelsville tent city on our vacant property at 2020 S. Jackson, which was later developed into Abbey Lincoln Court, 68 affordable apartments. Melinda, seeing the tent encampment, thought, “We can do so much better than tents,” and enlisted me and my crew from Home Depot to build the first tiny houses.
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What strikes me now about this story is how it perfectly exemplifies the LIHI spirit: the spirit of YES. LIHI had a vacant lot that was waiting for funding to be developed. Why let it sit fallow: could we use it to help our unhoused neighbors right now? YES. These campers are living in tents that are cramped and can get cold and wet. Could we build them some little houses out of plywood? YES. Could we add heat and electricity? YES. The campers really prefer these tiny houses to tents; the materials only cost about $2,500; volunteers came out of the woodwork when we put out a call for help building them. Could we expand this idea, turn it into a program and quickly and cheaply get a lot of people off the streets and into high quality, private shelters? YES YES YES.
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Time and time again I have seen LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee say yes to ideas that will help homeless people: ideas from her staff, from the board, from the homeless people themselves, from other organizations, from our municipal partners. This kind of can-do spirit is what makes LIHI special. I have never been prouder than to be affiliated with an organization that does so much good for so many.
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Please join us from November 1-14 at our Virtual Gala & Auction (click to register and preview) and bid high and donate so that LIHI can keep saying YES to wonderful ideas and helping more people for another 30 years.
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George Fleming Place Grand Opening!

Tina Fleming, wife of George Fleming, (center, red hat)
cuts the ribbon to open George Fleming Place
 

On October 14th, 2021, George Fleming Day by proclamation of Governor Jay Inslee, LIHI celebrated the grand opening of George Fleming Place.

Located in Seattle’s Othello neighborhood at 7357 43rd Ave. S. George Fleming Place features 106 affordable apartments serving families with children, veterans, low-wage workers and people living with disabilities. Ten apartments are intended to help Afghan refugees seeking asylum.

George Fleming Place is named in honor of former State Senator and Washington Husky football star George Fleming, Washington’s first African American state senator. He was elected in 1971 and represented the 37th District of Southeast Seattle/Rainier Valley. LIHI is specifically honoring George Fleming for being the prime sponsor in the Senate for creating the state Housing Trust Fund in 1986. Sharon Lee, when she worked at the Seattle City Council, lobbied him to create the HTF, now a nationally recognized program. George also established the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) in 1983. And he established the Office of Minority & Women’s Business Enterprise.

Speakers at the event included Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, Yemi Jackson Fleming, Nate Miles (former Chief Legislative Aide to George Fleming), Nathan Lichti (State Housing Trust Fund), Emily Alvarado (Office of Housing), Mike Pellicciotti (State Treasurer and WSHFC Commissioner), Nicole R. Bascomb-Green (US Bank) and Mahnaz Eshetu (Refugee Women’s Alliance).

Here are some of the remarks made at the opening:

Sharon Lee: “We wanted to name this building after someone who made a huge difference in the Othello neighborhood and the entire state.  LIHI is so grateful that George and Tina granted us the honor of naming it George Fleming Place.”

Senator Sharon Tomiko Santos: “George Fleming was a remarkable, consummate public servant who dedicated his career to the cause of building community. He worked on education, jobs, affordable housing and non-discrimination well before anyone else in this state. He epitomizes what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said: I can never be who I am fully meant to be unless you are able to be fully who you are meant to be. Senator Fleming stood for human dignity. I stand before you today only because Senator Fleming stood in my shoes well before me.”
Senator Rebecca Saldaña: “George Fleming and George Fleming Place are a reminder that we can do big things when we work together—and that to pay homage to George she would work hard to fully fund the State Housing Trust Fund.”

Yemi Fleming: “My father spent Monday to Friday in Olympia, sacrificing so much for his family and for the people of this state fighting tirelessly for the rights of the underprivileged, sponsoring landmark legislation that advocated for the rights of women, minorities, senior citizens, and the homeless, as well legislation that improved the social and economic development of his constituents and all of the state.”

Emily Alvarado: “Today you see the benefits of aligning our transportation and housing infrastructure investments. Thank you to Senator Fleming for the legacy of creating statewide resources for affordable housing. We need housing champions like Senator Fleming in every level of government if we are going to fulfill our promise of housing justice for all.”

Nathan Lichti: “The Housing Trust Fund invested in a duplex that was on this property, a $58,000 investment back in 1998.  We were happy to be flexible and transfer that funding into four units in George Fleming Place, extending the affordability of those units another 50 years without any additional investment. We are pleased to be here to celebrate with LIHI. This is a model example of how to create perpetual affordability.”

Mike Pellicciotti: “Since George Fleming founded the State Housing Trust Fund more than a half million people have found affordable housing in our state. Today more than ever we need more Senator Flemings in government.”

Senator Rebecca Saldaña
Rebecca Sharon Tomiko Santos
Eddie Rye, Tina Fleming, Yemi Fleming, Nate Miles
Nate Miles and Sharon Lee with Governor’s Proclamation

South Lake Union neighbors rally to create new tiny house village before winter at City-owned site

Last Wednesday, several South Lake Union neighborhood groups joined Seattle City Councilmembers Andrew Lewis and Teresa Mosqueda; the SLU Chamber; Mirabella residents; Immanuel Community Services; The Omni Group; Union Church; members of the Lake Union Village and Interbay Village Community Advisory Committees; and to call for 3 specific actions in support of more tiny home villages:

 

  • Ask Mayor Durkan and Seattle City Light to make the property at 145 Yale Ave. North available for a tiny house village to serve unsheltered people in South Lake Union.
  • Ask the Mayor to quickly build three new villages–that have already been funded–by winter.
  • Ask all candidates running for Mayor or City Council to support CM Lewis’s “It Takes a Village” initiative to build more tiny house villages across Seattle.
The rally took place at 145 Yale Ave. N., a vacant property owned by Seattle City Light that could host a temporary tiny home village, providing emergency shelter and a bridge to permanent housing for those living outside in the neighborhood’s streets, doorways, parks, and greenbelts. Contact Josh Castle if you would like more info at Josh.Castle@lihi.org.

 

A special thank you to SLU community members and villagers who attended the rally to support a new tiny house village in South Lake Union!

 

Tracy Williams, a former resident of True Hope Village, spoke powerfully of her positive transformation through the program and how she eventually secured permanent housing at Jensen Block and her daughter found housing at Clay Apartments. She now works as a Village Organizer at TC Spirit Village to help others find stability.
David Ellis and Candice Hoyt, who serve respectively on the Lake Union and Interbay tiny house village Community Advisory Committees
City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda with Julie Holland and CM Andrew Lewis (on right)
Residents of the Mirabella Retirement Community are spearheading
the campaign to bring a tiny house village to their South Lake Union neighborhood
under the RIMBY slogan “Right in My Back Yard!”
Bob Williamson spoke at the event on how staying at Interbay Village was an important stepping stone to securing permanent housing.

State Funds LIHI for 161 New PSH Units! Friendship Heights Village starts with Demolition

 

A look at the three Properties LIHI will
purchase for permanent supportive housing
All projects are substantially complete and can be occupied in months
225 Harvard Ave E.
  • Units: 71 Studios
  • Property Type: Turnkey- closing after C of O.
  • Closing: October 2021
  • Location: Capitol Hill, Seattle
  • Population Target: Homeless households
  • Long Term Owner: LIHI
  • Financing: Washington Department of Commerce Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition Program, Seattle Office of Housing Rapid Acquisition Program.
420 Boylston Ave E.
  • Units: 60 Studios
  • Property Type: Turnkey- closing after C of O.
  • Closing: October 2021
  • Location: Capitol Hill, Seattle
  • Population Target: Homeless households.
  • Long Term Owner: LIHI
  • Financing: Commerce Rapid Capital Acquisition Program, Seattle OH Rapid Acquisition Program
506 10th Ave E.
  • Units: 36 Studios
  • Property Type: Turnkey- closing after C of O.
  • Closing: October 2021
  • Location: Capitol Hill, Seattle
  • Population Target: Homeless Young Adults
  • Long Term Owner: LIHI
  • Partner: YouthCare
  • Financing: Commerce Rapid Capital Acquisition Program, Seattle OH Rapid Acquisition Program
The $25 million State Commerce award to LIHI was matched with $25 million from the Seattle Office of Housing to quickly acquire new buildings as permanent supportive housing for homeless singles, couples and young adults. The State award is part of a larger announcement from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $39.1 million in grants to five projects that will help address the state’s homeless crisis by acquiring 307 housing units that will quickly be available to serve people with extremely low incomes or who are experiencing homelessness.

Grant recipients are:

· City of Vancouver Housing Authority – $5.1 million to provide 62 shelter units at Bertha’s Place in Clark County.
· King County – $8.9 million to provide 84 shelter units in the Federal Way Red Lion Inn.
· Low Income Housing Institute – Three projects located in King County:
o  $10.89 million for 69 permanent supportive housing units at the 225 Harvard Apartments
o  $8.39 million for 58 permanent supportive housing units at the Boylston Apartments
o  $5.76 million for 34 permanent supportive housing units at the 506 10th Apartments

 

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OLYMPIA, WA —Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), Vice Chair for the Capital Budget on the Senate Ways & Means Committee and lead sponsor of the budget’s new Rapid Housing Fund, commented:

“The goal of this fund was for the state to partner with local governments, non-profits and the private sector more aggressively to make more units available rapidly – not in three or four years but within months. I am pleased that this initial round appears to be moving toward that goal. I think there are likely to be more units rapidly developed in Seattle and King County in upcoming rounds of funding.

Read full press release from Sen. Frockt.

 

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Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, said:

“The downturn in the real estate market due to the pandemic made it possible for three newly constructed apartment buildings to be purchased as permanent supportive housing for vulnerable homeless people. Thanks to the $25 million from the State’s Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program and $25 million from the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing, for a total of $50 million, LIHI will soon move in 180 people currently living on the street, in shelters or tiny houses into studio apartments. We appreciate the leadership from Governor Inslee and the Legislature in innovating the State’s new program to address homelessness.”

 

Demolition of Vacant Black Angus Motel
Makes Way for Friendship Heights Village

Demolition of the old Black Angus Motel is underway to make room for Friendship Heights Village. Located at 12245 Aurora Ave N., the village will be approximately 20,400 square feet and will feature 40 tiny houses that will serve up to 55 people. LIHI is partnering with North Seattle’s Epic Life Church as the village sponsor. Permanent affordable housing will eventually be built on the site.

By the end of this year, LIHI will add 140 new tiny houses in King County:
Skyway Village: 34 tiny houses, opened June
Rosie’s Village in U District: 36 tiny houses, open house September 28 (details to come)
Interbay Village expansion: 30 tiny houses, opening November
Friendship Heights Village: 40 tiny houses, opening November

Rosie’s Breaks Ground, Village in Bellingham, Nesbit Family Housing

Rosie’s Village Breaks Ground

On August 18th, LIHI broke ground on Rosie’s Village. The site at 1000 NE 45th Street is being leased for free from Sound Transit to the City of Seattle with annual renewals through May 31, 2024.

The 38-tiny house village, which LIHI will operate, is scheduled to open by mid-October and will provide shelter, community, safety, and a path to permanent housing for individuals, couples, and people with pets experiencing homelessness.

LIHI staff were joined at this exciting groundbreaking by several crucial partners in the effort to start Rosie’s, including Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen of District 4 and his staff, other staff from City of Seattle, Sound Transit, the University District Partnership, the Ravenna-Cowen Community Alliance, the Ravenna Pop Up Kitchen, and nearby neighbors.

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Gardenview Village in Bellingham to Open in October

LIHI’s first tiny house village in Bellingham will be located at Lakeway Drive and Woburn Street, near the city’s Community Garden. The village will feature 36 tiny houses. Each furnished unit has insulation, heat, electricity, windows and a locking door. Couples and pets will be allowed. There will be a community kitchen and a facility with restrooms, showers and laundry.

For more info, please read the Bellingham Herald article.
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Nesbit Family Housing
to Start Construction in November

LIHI’s Nesbit Family Housing, located at 8700 Aurora Ave. N, Seattle, is on the list to receive an allocation of 4% Tax Credits and Tax Exempt Bonds from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). The project will include 104 units of affordable housing in a 7-story elevator building. This included studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments to serve families and individuals making up to 60% of the King County Area Median Income (AMI). The project includes a community room with a kitchen and computer station, a classroom, a courtyard and children’s play area. The architect of record is PYATOK Architects, working with local firm, Hewitt Architects. Exxel Pacific is the General Contractor. The project will complete early right-of-way work at the end of August, and will begin construction in November. Other public funders include the Seattle Office of Housing and the State Housing Trust Fund.