March 2012

In This Issue
Take Action Today
Seattle Needs Affordable Housing
Volunteer Spotlight
PolicyLink Meeting
URS Challenge Grant
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Help End Homelessness

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Take Action Today to Help End Homelessness!


At the Low Income Housing Institute, we receive daily calls from families and individuals hoping to access housing. We constantly find ourselves in the difficult position of informing them that long wait lists persist at all agencies providing homes to very low income and homeless people. At the Urban Rest Stop, we serve as many as 500 homeless individuals each day with basic hygiene services. We know that what our patrons need the most is a safe place to live.


The biggest barrier to ending homelessness is the growing gap between available low income housing units and the number of people in need. One critical tool helping us narrow this gap is state government funding (the Housing Trust Fund.) Our lawmakers are finalizing our state budget right now and are tallying up their constituents' priorities. Let them know ending homelessness is a priority for you.


Click here to take action and encourage your law makers to continue their investment in the Housing Trust Fund. 

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Seattle Needs More Affordable Housing


Sharon Lee
On March 27, the Daily Journal of Commerce ran an article by LIHI's Executive Director, Sharon Lee, which responds to recent warnings from economists that Seattle's rental market is flooded with apartments. While this may be true for market-rate rental housing, according to Lee there are sgnificantly fewer housing options for low-wage workers, seniors, and those on fixed-incomes. "In 2012, a household in Seattle would have to make $21.12 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent of $1,098 per month. A person making the minimum wage of $9.04 per hour would have to work at least 93 hours per week, or have 2.3 jobs (at 40 hours per week) to afford the $1,048 rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment."


Furthermore, Lee states that housing for the homeless community is desperately needed. "Due to the continued housing and homelessness crisis, there are more than 2,500 homeless men, women and children who are living on the streets or in cars in Seattle and King County according to the recent One Night Count by the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. More than 6,000 homeless individuals, including families with children, are staying in emergency shelters and transitional housing."


According to Lee, there is hope to be found in Representative Dunshee's capital budget proposal to allocate $71 million to build and renovate affordable housing through the Washington State Housing Trust Fund. "The House proposal would not only help people find shelter at a time when housing has become less affordable, it also would create badly needed jobs in construction and beyond." Lee points to several of LIHI's buildings as examples of job creation. "At Gossett Place, which houses 72 homeless veterans, young adults and other homeless people with mental illness, 13 permanent jobs were created."


To download the full article text, click here.


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Volunteer Spotlight




Seattle Works volunteers and residents of LIHI's sustainably-designed Denny Park Apartments joined forces this month to prepare an on-site community terrace garden for spring. After much weeding and pruning all planter boxes are ready for the resident community to start planting vegetables, herbs and flowers. This on-site resource gives low income tenants an opportunity to learn gardening skills and offset their food expenses by growing their own food. Thank you Seattle Works for helping our residents get a head start on their gardening projects!




For more information about volunteering with LIHI, please contact Ania Beszterda-Alyson, LIHI's Community Engagement and Advocacy Manager. Click here to send her a message.
PolicyLink Meeting at The Bart Harvey


On March 22, LIHI hosted a meeting of South Lake Union stakeholders with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien at The Bart Harvey. The diverse group included representatives from the Gates Foundation, PATH, Puget Sound Sage, Touchstone, Vulcan, NBBJ, the Seattle Office of Housing, the Planning Commission, LIHI, and staff from Councilmembers Burgess and Conlin's offices. The meeting was convened by Councilmember O'Brien to introduce the group to PolicyLink, a national research and action institute that is dedicated to advancing economic and social equality. Two PolicyLink staff, Marc Philpart and Kalima Rose, were visiting Seattle from Oakland, California. They spoke about PolicyLink's work to focus attention on how residents and organizations are using local, state, and federal policy to create conditions that benefit people in low-income communities and communities of color.


Councilmember O'Brien (right) listens to presentation by Kalima Rose (left) and Marc Philpart (center) of PolicyLink


The group participated in a lively discussion about development in South Lake Union. Many feel that the neighborhood is at a critical point in terms of inclusivity for low-income people and minorities. Councilmember O'Brien commented, "If we really are going to start reversing trends of income inequality and disparate outcomes across race and class, we will have to put equity at the center of all our decisions -- from transportation and parks to human services -- even to land use. If we do, I believe we'll start seeing a Seattle that is more inclusive and where everyone has access to prosperity."


Sharon Lee, LIHI Executive Director, gave the group a tour of the green roof at The Bart Harvey, which contains 50 units of senior housing built to LEED silver equivalent standard. Sharon and Christine Lea, a Cascade resident and business owner, commented on some of the challenges facing the community. Our low-income seniors and families with children can no longer use the Cascade People's Center since the City withdrew funding for community programs. The skyrocketing land cost in South Lake Union has made it difficult to develop more affordable housing. The new zoning changes should increase and preserve the stock of low-income housing. The senior residents wish to see the City put pedestrian safety as a priority as stop signs and signage are needed to slow down vehicular traffic.
Urban Rest Stop Challenge Grant




The Urban Rest Stop  (URS) has been awarded a $10,000 matching grant from the Lucky Seven Foundation, and we need your help to make every dollar count! If we can raise $10,000 in donations for the URS in 2012, Lucky Seven will match that with an additional $10,000.


If you have never donated to the URS, or haven't donated in the past three years, please consider making a donation today. Your dollar will go twice as far in bringing free hygiene services to homeless men, women, and children.


If you did donate to the URS in 2011 (thank you!), please consider doubling your donation for 2012. Lucky Seven will also match current donors who give twice as much in 2012 as they did in 2011.


For more information, please contact Aaron Long at (206) 957-8069, or click here to send an email.
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Do you want the most up-to-date news on LIHI? How about relevant information on low income housing, homelessness, and advocacy in Washington? You'll find all this and more on LIHI's Facebook page! Click here to join our Facebook community.

Low Income Housing Institute | 2407 !st Avenue | Seattle WA 98121 | 206.443.9935 | |

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