Month: October 2021

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.
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.
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.
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.


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