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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!

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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LIHI Gala Cancelled – We Need Your Help

We regret to announce that the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to cancel our October 30th Gala at the Four Seasons. However, while we must put off the festivities for a year, we still need your support. The Gala & Auction raises funds that fill funding gaps for LIHI’s programs—Tiny House Villages, Urban Rest Stops, Supportive Services.

Click to donate online

Without Gala and Auction funds, here are the impacts:
•    Fewer Tiny Houses and Villages to provide shelter to those with none.
•    Fewer case managers to help our clients find jobs, housing, and services.
•    Fewer days and hours we have the Urban Rest Stops open.

LIHI’s Tiny House Program is wonderfully effective shelter for pandemic conditions. Unlike traditional shelters, each resident has a separate space to sleep and live, helping to flatten the curve. We haven’t had a single confirmed case of Covid-19 in our villages! This year we opened our first village in Tacoma and are working to open three more villages before winter starts.

Pictured: New residents of Interbay Village

LIHI Supportive Services programs provide our residents with case management that helps them secure education, employment, permanent housing, and other crucial services.

Pictured: We hired a full-time teacher to set up a learning pod to help our students not fall behind at Meadowbrook Apartments in Seattle. Remote learning is difficult for many low-income families.

Our three Urban Rest Stops are operating at full capacity during Covid-19 while other facilities have closed around the city. We provide hot showers, bathrooms, laundry, and services that can make the difference between health and sickness, life and death, and getting a job or not. The city of Seattle covers only 77% of our costs.

Pictured: Client at downtown Urban Rest Stop

LIHI provides essential services during the pandemic and we have never been busier! Next year—our 30th Anniversary!—we’ll return to fun and friends and fine dining with our biggest Gala and Auction ever, but for now, we humbly ask for your support to get through this challenging time.

Gift of $2,500 pays for a tiny house
Gift of $1,250 pays for half a tiny house
Gift of $500 pays for the water and electricity at the Urban Rest Stops for a week.
Gift of $250 will fund case managers to secure housing for people living in tiny houses
Gift of $100 will pay for a learning pod for low income and formerly homeless students 
Gift of $50 Will help pay for emergency food and PPE for seniors and homeless people 
Any gift helps. We are grateful for your donation.

Click to donate online
or mail check made out to “LIHI Gala” to:
LIHI
Attn: Fund Development
1253 S. Jackson St. Suite A
Seattle, WA 98144
Thank you for your support!

GiveBig Now Through May 8

GiveBig for the
Urban Rest Stops & Tiny Houses
While GiveBIG is offically May 8th, you can GiveBig early today and help your friends give as well!
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This year, there are 3 Ways to GiveBIG early:
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1) Donate today direct to LIHI.
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The Wyncote Foundation NW is matching up to $50,000 in gifts!
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The Urban Rest Stops provide free showers, laundry, haircuts and other hygiene services to thousands in Downtown Seattle, U-District and Ballard. There is nothing like a hot shower and clean clothes. Your gift funds soap, shampoo, towels, hot water and other crucial hygiene items.

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Tiny Houses are safe, sturdy structures that protect homeless individuals and families who are faced with sleeping on the streets in unsheltered and unsafe conditions. Your gift funds critical village amenities such as electricity, shower and laundry facilities, and case management to help residents find permanent housing and employment. 

Thank you for your support and GiveBig today!

CrowdRise for Tiny Houses – Help Us Qualify for $100,000 Grant

LIHI is raising funds for our Tiny House Village program through the USA Today’s “A Community Thrives” CrowdRise campaign.  Want to join us in making a difference?  LIHI needs your help to support new and existing Tiny House Villages and provide case management for our residents to help them find permanent housing and connect to needed social services.  Your donation will help us be eligible for a grant of up to $100,000 and other incentive prizes.  Please visit our campaign site and donate today and help LIHI combat homelessness!

house and planter (1)

Help LIHI Change Lives

Dear Friend of LIHI,

This is a magical time of the year. We wish you and your family Peace and Joy! Thank you for helping people who need shelter, housing and a friendly place to shower and wash clothes.

At LIHI as we enter our 28th year, we continue to provide innovative solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis. With your support, we are grateful for:

  1. SHOWERS, RESTOOMS, and LAUNDRY for homeless people at three Urban Rest Stops located in downtown Seattle, Ballard and the University District. Sixty percent of the homeless we serve are working part or full-time and the Rest Stops help people keep their job, apply for housing, and maintain their health and dignity.

The City of Seattle supports 66% of the costs of operating Urban Rest Stops and we have to raise $430,000. Your gift will help keep the Rest Stops open: you can help thousands of people get ready for work, school, and other activities!

  1. OVER 300 TINY HOUSES have sheltered over a thousand families, singles and couples in ten tiny house villages around Seattle. We are about to open our first village in Olympia. Well-managed, sanctioned tiny house villages create safe places for vulnerable people who would otherwise have to sleep unprotected on the streets. LIHI social workers help people obtain employment, healthcare and housing. High praise to the extraordinary effort from high schools, technical colleges, tribes, apprenticeship programs, church groups, businesses, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, and the many many volunteers who build and donate tiny houses. Each house costs $2,500. Over the past three years, hundreds of people at the villages have obtained housing and secured employment. Come visit the tiny house villages.
  1. HOMES FOR THOSE WITH NONE – In 2018 we moved 226 people from homelessness into LIHI housing. We moved 171 people from Tiny Houses into long-term housing.
  1. AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLETED – The Tony Lee Apartments in the Lake City Neighborhood of Seattle opened in September, featuring 70 affordable units and a four-classroom preschool operated by the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA).
  1. UNDER CONSTRUCTION – We are nearing completion of Renton Commons, which will feature 48 apartments for homeless families and veterans located in downtown Renton. We recently broke ground on Little Saigon Family Housing: 69 affordable apartments located in Seattle’s International District. Includes street level retail and LIHI offices on first floor.
  1. THOUSANDS OF VOLUNTEERS have donated their talent and time to help LIHI at the Urban Rest Stops, build tiny houses, read books to children, help with summer camp, prepare meals for ten tiny house communities, and help our families, seniors and veterans.

Please consider a year-end gift to the Low Income Housing Institute to support life-changing programs.

Warmly and best wishes for the holidays!

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