By Polly Keary, Editor
Affordable-housing organization Housing Hope will this year build the largest development the group has ever constructed in the organization’s 26 years, and it will be in Monroe.
Just north of St. Vincent de Paul, the organization will build a 47-unit apartment complex for those transitioning out of homelessness and for low-income families.
But more than that, Housing Hope also plans to include at the site a common area to include community group space, offices for case managers to meet with residents, for property managers, and potentially even for childcare or social enterprise businesses.
That’s because Housing Hope does more than merely house people who are financially strapped or getting back on their feet. The group also provides services to help formerly homeless people learn skills to increase their chances of success and stability, as well as to other families who need counseling on such matters as money management.
Low-cost housing is critical in Snohomish and King Counties, more-so than other counties in the state, said Nate Greenland, Philanthropy Manager at Housing Hope.
“In King and Snohomish Counties we far and away outstrip every other county in the state in housing cost,” he said. “In other counties you can get by. But a family needs to earn a total of $21.23 per hour to support a two-bedroom apartment and not pay more than 30 percent of income here.”
Lots of low-wage or underemployed families don’t bring that in, especially in single-parent households.
Of the 47 units coming to the development to be called Monroe Family Village, 10 will be for families transitioning out of homelessness. The other 37 will be rent-adjusted such that no family pays more than 30 percent of income for housing.
One thing Housing Hope is doing more of in recent years is helping families on the income end as well as on the housing end. To do that, the organization has started a number of social enterprise businesses. Those are businesses that provide services compatible with the needs of large apartment buildings, like property management, landscaping, and most recently, high-end furniture consignment.
That way, people who live in the complexes can also learn job skills there and earn money.
“It’s exciting,” said Greenland.
The complex is expected to cost about $12 million. Of that, Housing Hope is asking the Monroe community to raise $50,000.
That will help get grant support, said Greenland.
“Community support is essential because often, before funders will jump in, they wait to see if this is something the community itself wants,” he said. “It’s that vote of confidence that says, ‘Yes, we want this for our community.’”
The organization hopes to break ground in April. Currently, Housing Hope has 78 units of housing in the Sky Valley, ranging from housing for those transitioning out of homelessness to team-building home ownership houses.
The project will help Housing Hope far exceed a goal established 10 years ago.
“In the early 2000s, when our East County board was formed, they set a goal of creating 100 new units of affordable housing in the East County,” said Greenland. “We are thrilled to go from the existing 78 units and far exceed that 100. We will be at, when it’s all said and done, 158 units in East County alone.”
Other projects either underway or in the works in the area are Rose Park, where families are working together to build 10 homes that will be complete in February; 10 more single-family homes slated for construction elsewhere on Main Street, and 10 homes to be constructed this year in the French Creek area.