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  • Share the Love with Mr. Captain Larry

    At Closer to Home 2023, we shared the story of one of our residents, Mr. Captain Larry. Larry is 40 years old, a dancer and an artist, and has a disability. He has lived in Bellwether Housing at The Genesee since 2006. Larry's nephew helps him film and post dance videos to his Tik Tok channel, which has 4,500 followers. Larry has such a great personality and is so engaging you can’t help but get excited around him. His go-to phrase is "share the love," which inspires us to continue sharing the love every day. Last year, Larry told his Resident Services Coordinator that he loves the Mariners but has never been to a game and that he would love to throw out a pitch. Normally, our Resident Services Coordinators support residents in daily living tasks like accessing food, filing for Medicare, finding childcare, or applying for jobs, but in this case, they figured out a way to help Larry achieve his dreams. The Mariners honored Larry as a Hometown All-Star on July 2, 2023! He and his family had great seats at the game and Larry received a swag bag with gear and goodies. Thank you to everyone at the Mariners who made Larry feel special and for giving a shout-out to Bellwether Housing! Watch Larry's story in the video below. Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Larry, find home and build stable, thriving lives.

  • Deangelo's Story

    We're sharing stories from our residents about what their Bellwether apartment means to them. Check back for more stories soon! Deangelo moved to Seattle from Oklahoma. He slept on a bench outside, then moved into a homeless shelter. He didn’t like it there, so he went back to the bench. Then a man saw him sleeping outside and gave him a tent. While he was living in a tent, Deangelo applied for a job with Swedish Medical Center First Hill. He did a video interview, where they hired him on the spot. Deangelo had previously worked as a patient transporter for a hospital in Dallas, but that job has different requirements in Seattle. So at Swedish, he started working in the Environmental Services department. He hopes to move to patient transport at some point because he still has his CPR license. When Deangelo’s boss at Swedish found out he was sleeping in a tent, they let him sleep in a room at work and started trying to help him find housing. A Swedish staff member from the Community Health Investments team reached out to Bellwether’s partner Plymouth Housing, who then connected them with Bellwether. The Bellwether team worked with Deangelo to figure out what kind of housing he qualified for and where to apply. We’re thrilled that Deangelo moved into The Rise on Madison on April 27! His apartment is five minutes away from his job. When asked what his apartment means to him, he said “It means a lot. A whole bunch. I love it. I’ve come a long way. I’m proud of myself.” In addition to working at the hospital, Deangelo is also a guitarist and a singer. He takes guitar lessons online from a teacher in Oklahoma. “I’m doing some really exciting and fun stuff. I live an adventurous life. I take karate and am trying to get back in shape. I took ballet in high school, years ago. Now I’m 46. But you’re as young as you eat and exercise. I live in a big world,” said Deangelo. Deangelo is still trying to furnish his apartment. His coworkers have given him some things and Bellwether too. “I’m a grown man. I used all my money to move into my apartment. I’ll wait until my next pay period and then buy what I want. It takes time but I’m patient,” he said. “You’ve got to learn how to adapt and survive and use what you’ve got at the moment, until you get what you really need. I’m grateful.” For other people going through similar experiences as him, Deangelo gave this advice: “Be consistent. Don’t give up. Get a job. Be diligent in everything you do. You have to have connection with God. Save up your money. Be resourceful and, if you don’t know how to do something, find someone at an organization or library to help you.” Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Deangelo, find home and build stable, thriving lives.

  • Leah's Story

    We're sharing stories from our residents about what their Bellwether apartment means to them. Check back for more stories soon! Leah was having a hard time finding a job. She’s a very capable, outgoing, and intelligent woman who lives at Arbora Court. Last summer, she started working with Carlisa, our employment specialist, to improve her resume, discuss her potential careers, and search job openings. After considering different career paths, Leah wrote a letter to a temp service so that she could get temporary work while she sorts out some of the challenges in her life. The temp service hired her to work in concessions at Seahawks and Kraken games. At first, the only benefit to the job was being able to pay her bills. But as Leah received more compliments from her manager, coworkers, and customers, she really started to like her work. This boosted her self esteem. Leah is proud of herself and her work. We’re proud of her too! Resident Services Coordinators help residents like Leah: Sign up for rental assistance and apply for scholarships Find a job, with interview and resume prep Access medical and mental health care Find quality, affordable childcare Access resources like schools, libraries, and food banks Sign up for unemployment & disability benefits Find ESL Classes or go back to school Combat social isolation with organized activities Coordinators kept more than 550 at-risk families housed during the pandemic. Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Leah, find home and build stable, thriving lives.

  • Libby's Story

    We're sharing stories from our residents about what their Bellwether apartment means to them. Check back for more stories soon! Libby lives in Olive Tower in the Denny Triangle neighborhood of downtown Seattle. Libby used to live in Chicago and took care of her mom. But after her mom died, there was nothing left for her there. Libby’s daughter talked her into moving to Seattle. She really likes this city; she has been here for more than six years. Libby was laid off and Carlisa (an Employment Specialist with Bellwether Housing) helped her get into a job training program for medical services. She's very proud of her certificate of completion. “I was struggling and couldn’t find resources. Carlisa was the only person who helped me. This program helped me get on my way in the direction I want to go. Now I’ve had several job interviews," said Libby. Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Libby, find home and build stable, thriving lives.

  • Lilian's Story

    We're sharing stories from our residents about what their Bellwether apartment means to them. Check back for more stories soon! Lilian is a single mom to three children and works as a caregiver. Lilian and her family live in Arbora Court in the University District. They all really like their apartment and her children have friends in the building. “Our apartment means security, shelter, safety … it means everything for our family,” said Lilian. Before Arbora Court Apartments, Lilian and her family lived in Lacey, Washington. But they didn’t have the resources they needed. One of Lilian’s sons has nonverbal autism. They moved to Seattle so that they could access necessary resources for her son’s special needs. Lilian appreciates living close to Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center. Arbora Court’s Resident Services Coordinator helped Lilian apply to the University Christian Church scholarship fund, which provides funding for educational activities for children and youth at Arbora Court. She likes that she can choose a program that enriches their family. “My kids love water. Last year they chose swimming classes, which were fun and very good for them to learn to swim. It’s a life-saving thing to learn. The children really enjoyed it. We can do it together as a family,” said Lilian. Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Lilian and her children, find home and build stable, healthy lives.

  • Patrick's Story

    Patrick is a retired senior living at Meridian Manor Apartments. His apartment is important to him because it’s a roof over his head. Patrick likes that his apartment is comfortable and allows him to stay healthy. He appreciates that his neighborhood has everything he needs in it and his surroundings are familiar. Patrick lives alone, but has friends in the building. He knows that community is important for everyone, at all stages of life. “I enjoy my neighbors. A good neighbor is one that greets you nicely no matter what type of day it is. We do have a lot of interesting people within our building,” said Patrick. Patrick is pleased that his Resident Services Coordinator organizes trips for the seniors in his building. This year they visited places like the Van Gogh art exhibit and Snoqualmie Falls. “We have a Resident Services Coordinator who is very good in her position and she handles the residents with a certain amount of dignity that is not seen too often. She is exceptionally good at what she’s doing,” said Patrick. Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Patrick, find home and build stable, healthy lives.

  • Azeb's Story

    Azeb is a single mom who works as a janitor at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Azeb and her 12-year-old son lost their housing and first tried living with her sister. That didn’t work out and they ended up in a homeless shelter. “Nobody helped me. As a single mom, it’s hard. I have a little bit of a problem with my leg and am disabled. I work but my salary is a little low,” said Azeb. Thankfully, last year Azeb and her son were able to move into Kingway–one of Bellwether Housing’s apartment buildings in Rainier Valley. Liya, a Resident Services Coordinator, told Azeb about King County’s Housing Access and Services Program (HASP), which helps individuals with disabilities access Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. A Section 8 voucher allows a person to pay between 30% and 40% of their income towards rent and utilities. Azeb is excited that she received a HASP voucher to help pay rent. She and her son really like their apartment. “Liya has helped me a lot. Thank you so much to Bellwether. I really appreciate everything you do,” said Azeb. Our Resident Services Coordinators play essential roles in supporting our residents and preventing homelessness. Besides helping to secure rental assistance, they help with things like finding affordable childcare and enrollment assistance for benefits such as SNAP, Orca Lift, and Medicaid/Medicare. They also build partnerships with local organizations that bring new skills to residents (like swim lessons) and build community. And so much more! Please donate to support Bellwether Housing. Together, we can help our neighbors, like Azeb and her son, find home and build stable, thriving lives.

  • Seeding Change, Harvesting Homes: 2022 Annual Report

    “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Bellwether Housing and our supporters believe in a tomorrow in which everyone in our community has access to a safe, stable and affordable home; in which everyone has a home in which they can build their own tomorrow. Thank you for the seeds you have planted with us! Our 2022 Annual Report highlights buildings that are the fruits of the Building Opportunity Campaign, which will have sprouted nearly 1,000 new homes in just three years. And our resident services program continues to find new ways to support and enrich the lives of our residents. Together, we are master gardeners! Thank you for believing in tomorrow and for supporting Bellwether Housing and our residents.

  • Behind the Scenes: Why Alex, Yvette, and Todd love their work!

    Get to know three of our staff members: Alex, Yvette, and Todd.

  • Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing Celebrate First AffordableHigh-Rise Development in 50 Years

    Blake House and The Rise on Madison provide 362 total units of new housing On May 23, Plymouth Housing and Bellwether Housing, nonprofits that provide permanent supportive housing and affordable housing, respectively, celebrated the opening of the first affordable high-rise in Seattle in more than 50 years with a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours of the 17-story tower. Karen Lee, CEO of Plymouth Housing, Susan Boyd, CEO of Bellwether Housing, Julie Timm, CEO of Sound Transit, and Rep. Frank Chopp gave remarks on the importance of partnership in providing solutions to ending the homelessness crisis in King County and the positive impact the building will have on the lives of residents and the First Hill community. The ambitious effort was made possible by a $0 land transfer from Sound Transit in 2018. In addition to its proximity to health care providers in the neighborhood, Plymouth is partnering with Swedish Health Services to provide onsite health care services, including behavioral health services, to residents. “Today we have reason to celebrate. This building is proof that we can make real strides toward ending homelessness in our region” said Karen Lee, CEO of Plymouth Housing. “When we came to Sound Transit with an idea for this site, they understood how important it was to provide homes for people experiencing chronic homelessness. When we asked Bellwether to join us, we gained a partner who is doing transformative work providing homes for individuals and families. And of course, we wouldn't be here today if it weren't for our community, and the support of the First Hill neighborhood.” Within the 17-floor building are two distinct apartment complexes. Plymouth will operate Blake House on floors two through five, with a total of 112 studio apartments focused on serving seniors and veterans who have experienced chronic homelessness. In addition to three live-in staff apartments, Blake House features three community rooms, a second-floor outdoor courtyard and a computer lab for residential use. Named for a long-time local housing advocate, Blake House honors the legacy of Blake Nordstrom. For more than 25 years, Blake Nordstrom contributed his time and energy toward various efforts to end homelessness in Seattle. As supporters of Plymouth Housing, Blake and the Nordstrom family both championed Plymouth’s mission in the community and invested in programs that benefited Plymouth residents, including an economic empowerment program at Nordstrom Rack for residents of Plymouth’s former Gatewood Hotel on 1st and Pine Street. Bellwether will operate The Rise on Madison (The Rise) on floors six through 17. The Rise will provide 250 homes affordable to families making 60% or less of area median income with 10% of those homes featuring two and three bedrooms. Rents will range from $1,015 for a studio to $1,783 for a three-bedroom unit. There is a large community room on floor 17 featuring a full kitchen, a large screen television, ample seating and sweeping views of the Sound. It’s complimented by a large outdoor patio off the main sitting area. The Rise also features a computer lab and a children’s play area. Together, the building provides a total of 362 supportive and affordable housing units. “This development represents so much of what is great about Seattle—support for an innovative development that will serve a broad range of needs, collaboration among committed partners, and a deep commitment to ensure that lower income people have a place in this city,” Bellwether CEO Susan Boyd said. “I’m grateful for our state and local government leaders who made this development a priority, to neighborhood leaders who were active proponents of the project, and to the brilliant and committed staff at Plymouth and Bellwether Housing who worked so hard to make this happen.” A historic and diverse neighborhood, First Hill is densely populated with hospitals, medical clinics and higher learning institutions. The location of First Hill will be familiar to residents, many of whom have experienced homelessness within the city, while offering access to shopping, job opportunities and transit hubs. Located on Madison Street at Boylston Avenue, the new building is within walking distance of light rail, the streetcar and major bus lines, providing easy access to the city. "The opening of The Rise on Madison and Blake House is the culmination of years of innovative collaboration to bring affordable housing to the heart of First Hill,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Sound Transit is pleased to have partnered with this project by donating the property, which will now provide more than 350 homes to improve the lives of low- and middle-income individuals and families, as well as seniors and veterans who have experienced chronic homelessness. With its proximity to public transit and ready access to jobs and medical care, this project stands as a shining example of equitable transit-oriented development.” Rep. Frank Chopp remarked, “This project, with The Rise on Madison and Blake House sharing the site, is a shining example of how affordable, transit-oriented housing should be accomplished. Working with Enterprise Community Partners and the Home & Hope program, I enacted a state law mandating surplus Sound Transit property be used for affordable housing. Utilizing that law, we acquired this property for free and partnering with Bellwether Housing, Plymouth Housing, and many public funders, we built a spectacular model for social housing in Washington state. Congratulations to all.” Blake House was funded with 9% low-income housing tax credit equity as well as funding from the City of Seattle, King County, the State of Washington, and the Federal Home Loan Bank. Additionally, Plymouth Housing utilized $4.5 million from its successful PROOF campaign to support the development of this project. The Rise was funded with tax-exempt bonds, 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity and private debt as well as funding from the City of Seattle, King County, and the State of Washington. In addition, Bellwether raised $10 million from local philanthropists and private impact-investors to support a series of developments including The Rise. About Bellwether Housing Bellwether Housing is the largest private, nonprofit affordable housing provider in Seattle. Bellwether has developed, owned and operated housing for low-income individuals, families, seniors and households transitioning out of homelessness since 1980 --in total, 3,000 apartments in 35 (and counting) buildings serving over 5000 people throughout Seattle and South King County. www.bellwetherhousing.org About Plymouth Housing Plymouth Housing’s mission is to eliminate homelessness and address its causes by preserving, developing and operating safe, quality, supportive housing and by providing adults experiencing homelessness with opportunities to stabilize and improve their lives. Plymouth follows the “Housing First” philosophy, operating on the principle that people cannot improve their lives until they have a safe, stable place to live. www.plymouthhousing.org

  • Bellwether Housing to build 333 affordable, transit-oriented homes at the Overlake Village Station

    Redmond, one of this region’s most expensive places to live, will soon be home to 333 new affordable homes. Following a competitive process requesting proposals from affordable housing developers, Sound Transit has selected Bellwether Housing to develop transit-oriented, affordable rental housing adjacent to the Overlake Village Station, near the Microsoft campus in Redmond. “Transit connects people to community, to housing, to jobs, to education, to food, to health care, to recreation. When transit and development partner to include diverse and affordable communities directly adjacent to quality light rail stations, these people-centered connections become exponentially more vibrant, sustainable, and equitable for the entire region,” said Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. “We are proud to collaborate with Bellwether Housing and the City of Redmond on this transformative project.” State law requires Sound Transit to commit much of the surplus land resulting from station development to affordable housing. To date 1,150 affordable homes have been developed or are under development on former Sound Transit property. “We applaud Sound Transit’s creative use of property near the Overlake Village Station and welcome Bellwether Housing to Redmond,” said Mayor Angela Birney. “Affordable housing paired with a range of community services near light rail is essential in achieving our vision of complete and equitable neighborhoods. This is another great example of what working together and leveraging partnerships can do for the betterment of our community.” Bellwether’s proposal features rents affordable to households with incomes between 30% and 80% of the area median income. For a 2-bedroom apartment, that means rent will range from about $800 to $2,000, in a community where rent is typically more than twice as high as the national average. The project will include 120 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for larger families. “This is exactly what we need to be doing – density, affordability, community partners – near great schools, world class transit, and a great job market. Communities need this. Families need this. And we are honored to be supporting Sound Transit and the City of Redmond’s housing equity goals,” said Susan Boyd, Chief Executive Officer of Bellwether Housing. Bellwether is partnering with Hopelink, the eastside’s largest social service agency, to provide supportive services to residents who need them. “Too often, families experiencing poverty are priced-out of centrally located neighborhoods. As a result, our communities miss out on the value of their presence and contributions to those communities,” said Dr. Catherine Cushinberry, Chief Executive Officer of Hopelink. “With this partnership, families will be closer to good jobs, great schools, and able to participate more in what will be our shared communities. We know how vital access to quality services are to all families as they settle into a place they can call home. Hopelink is excited to walk alongside residents as they develop this stability and is proud to partner with Bellwether Housing and Sound Transit in this critical work for our region.” The project will also include large community and retail spaces on the ground floor. One Redmond, the Redmond Police Department, and Indian American Community Services plan to occupy and activate those ground floor spaces with services to support public safety, small businesses, and the cultural and recreational needs of the neighborhood. Photo courtesy of VIA – a Perkins Eastman Studio. ### About Bellwether Housing Bellwether Housing is the largest private, nonprofit affordable housing provider in Seattle. Bellwether has developed and operated housing for low-income individuals, families, seniors and households transitioning out of homelessness since 1980. We serve over 6,000 residents in 2,900 apartments throughout Seattle. About Sound Transit Sound Transit builds and operates express buses, light rail and commuter train services for the central Puget Sound region so that people can get to where they are going safely and economically. About Hopelink Since 1971, Hopelink has provided stability-building services for people experiencing poverty in North and East King County. The agency provides nine comprehensive services that work in tandem, supporting community members as they work to exit poverty. These services include food assistance, housing, financial capabilities, employment services, transportation, energy assistance, financial assistance, adult education, and family development.

  • Transgender Awareness Week

    Editorial Note: This post is part of our blog series about diversity, equity, and inclusion. These posts are written by staff on our Equity Committee and originally shared internally. We're sharing them publicly to be transparent about our internal dialogue, reflections and learning process as we work on being an anti-racist organization. Transgender Awareness Week runs every year from November 13 to November 19. People and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender people and address issues members of the community face (source). (image source) How does Bellwether Housing fit into Transgender Awareness Week? Every one of us plays a role in helping people feel like they have a place here and are welcomed. Bellwether employees may be trans themselves and/or have worked with current or prospective tenants who are transgender. Here’s one employee’s memory of an interaction with a resident where simply asking for pronouns helped assure the resident they were being heard and respected: A tenant came into the office one morning, tense and visibly upset. They weren’t getting responses to any emails they sent to management, and were worried it was because they were trans as they had experienced discrimination in their past. As this person finished their explanation, I said, “May I ask your pronouns?” With a smile, they answered, “He, him.” As I gave him a quick thank you, offered my own pronouns, and started talking about how I could help, his shoulders relaxed and we came to agree on some next steps. Aside from following fair housing law and having respectful daily interactions with trans tenants, what else has Bellwether done to make our buildings more welcoming and safer for trans residents? In 2022, the Property Management team created a voluntary supplemental demographics survey for residents which includes gender identity fields. Read here to learn about why data collection is so important for the LGBTQ community. In 2020, Bellwether’s HR & IT team worked together to add employees’ pronouns to email signatures on a voluntary basis. Property Management overhauled the requirements in our tenant screening application in 2019, and again in 2020 and 2021 to be less restrictive. These changes benefit trans people, who disproportionately face homelessness and incarceration. Here are some ways the requirements changed: Lessened prior eviction restrictions Lessened qualifying income requirements Eliminated need to provide outside proof of bank account amounts Since 2014, Real Estate Development has included all-gender bathrooms in resident common areas of new developments instead of gender-segregated ones. What are things Bellwether could do in the future? Recommend or sponsor LGBTQ-specific trainings for employees Currently, our resident data collection system will only accommodate male, female, and declined to report when it comes to demographics information. Bellwether could advocate that the vendor who provides this system to update their software to reflect more inclusive gender options, such as the “X” gender that is now available for U.S. passports, Washington State licenses, and WA birth certificates (source). More resources: To learn more about transgender people and issues important to them, check out GLAAD's trans facts. This is a great resource for how to be an ally, too. If you prefer to watch instead of read, check out this post from USA Today and these short videos from It Gets Better. For info about transgender people and the workplace, check out Out & Equal. This site also has resources in Spanish and Portuguese. To learn about transgender students and issues important to them, check out GLSEN. This is also a great resource for educators and parents.

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