Q&A with Senior Design Manager Jess Blanch

CHH Staffer Jess Blanch. Photo courtesy of Harry Connolly.

1. Congratulations on your recent promotion to Senior Design Manager. As a Rose Fellow at CHH, you’ve been instrumental in guiding our internal environmental work – greening our building portfolio. What does that work entail and how do you foresee it continuing under this new role?

Thank you! I am thrilled to continue my work with the team here at Capitol Hill Housing. Greening CHH’s portfolio includes not only ensuring our new buildings are designed to be as sustainable as they can be, but also finding opportunities to improve the energy and water efficiency in our existing properties which span building types, time periods, and sizes. The first step is called benchmarking–understanding how well our buildings perform, and then analyzing that performance to identify places where we could upgrade systems to reduce energy and water use. We have been working with a number of partners to do this work, and many of their recommendations are being wrapped into building renovations that will be happening over the next few years. These retrofits–things like toilets that use less water, low-energy LED light fixtures, or more efficient heating systems–will ultimately make our residents’ homes more comfortable and less expensive to operate with lower utility bills for both residents and CHH.

Beyond efficient buildings, we are also focusing on healthy materials. We are proud to partner with the Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree Initiative, which helps affordable housing organizations improve resident health outcomes by using less toxic products in our buildings. The Liberty Bank Building is the Pacific Northwest Demonstration Project for HomeFree, and we’re taking what we’ve learned from that project to develop design and operations standards that will reduce staff and resident exposure to toxic products. This work is being supported by the Washington State Department of Ecology and includes resident education and outreach. 

2. Your background is in architecture – what drives your passion for working in affordable housing?

For me, pursuing a career in architecture has always gone hand in hand with a commitment to helping others. The built environment plays a huge role in social, economic, and environmental justice, diversity, and equity. I strongly believe not only that housing is a human right, but that everyone deserves an affordable, well-designed, sustainable, and healthy home. Working in affordable housing development means I can affect decisions earlier in the process and ensure these priorities are baked into our work from the start.

3. In addition to driving environmental goals at CHH, you will be extensively involved in moving our pipeline of building projects forward. What there are you most excited about? 

I am really excited about some new developments I led during my Rose Fellowship and will continue to contribute to in the future: the White Center Community Hub and Jazz House. Both projects are collaborations with community organizations to build affordable housing co-located with social services and education opportunities in neighborhoods with high risk of displacement as our region continues to grow.  For the Hub we are partnering with Southwest Youth & Family Services, the White Center Community Development Association and King County to build affordable homes as well as social and community services in White Center. Jazz House is a partnership with local nonprofit Seattle JazzED, which will create an iconic new home for JazzED’s music education program for kids along with affordable homes in Rainier Valley. 

Meeting Change Notice

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has changed the date of the Executive Committee meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98122 on Thursday, January 3rd from 12:00-1:30pm.

This meeting is now scheduled for Monday, January 7th at the same time and location.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

An Interview with Site Manager Joah Snowden

Photo courtesy of Joah Snowden

Joah Snowden is looking forward to becoming the site manager for the Liberty Bank Building (LBB). Currently, he is the site manager for Squire Park Plaza at 1710 South Jackson Street, owned and operated by Capitol Hill Housing. When LBB with its 115 apartments and three storefronts opens its doors in 2019, Joah expects to be busy.
The Liberty Bank Building stands as a legacy to the community that surrounds it, and Joah takes that responsibility seriously.

“There will be an eye on LBB because of the significance of the space,” he says. “I hope to be a part of the community outside of the building, not just within it.”

Though, within it, he plans to set a welcoming tone so that residents know him to be available, understanding, and willing to help. He would like to create an atmosphere where residents feel that they are part of a community within the building and looks forward to hosting events on the rooftop deck and in the community room so that residents can meet one another. We’re glad to have Joah on our team!

Meeting Notice

October 1, 2018

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has scheduled a meeting of the Community Development Committee to be held in the Belmont Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98122 on Thursday, October 4th at 1:00pm.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

Meeting Cancellation Notice

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has cancelled the Joint Board Development Committee meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98122 on Wednesday, September 12th at 4:00pm.

 Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

Meeting Change Notice

Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has changed the date of the Property Development Committee meeting originally scheduled to be held in the Belmont Conference Room at the CHH Main Office at 1620 12th Ave, Ste 205, Seattle, WA 98122 on Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30 pm.

The meeting is now scheduled for Tuesday, September 4th at 5:00 pm in the Pike Pine Room at 1620 12th Ave, Ste 206, Seattle, WA 98122.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Housing

CHH Leads Effort to Revitalize Local Alley as Pedestrian Zone

Capitol Cider held a benefit on July 20-21 for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Credit: Capitol Cider

Public space isn’t limited to parks. It includes streets, sidewalks, and other outdoor places where we as a community can connect. Alleys such as Seattle’s Post Alley are important thoroughfares, casting a spotlight on businesses and creating pedestrian zones that avoid traffic. Several communities have taken on other projects of this nature, such as Nord Alley, created by the Alliance for Pioneer Square, and Canton Alley, spearheaded by the Seattle Chinatown International District Planning and Development Authority (SCIDpda).

With funding support from the Office of Economic Development and the Seattle Department of Transportation, Capitol Hill Housing is excited to help lead an effort to revitalize such a space nearby – one where neighbors can meet. The alley runs behind CHH’s own Broadway Crossing and also touches Capitol Cider, Neighbours Nightclub, the Erickson and Egyptian theaters, part of Seattle Central College, several local businesses, and a forthcoming affordable housing project.

In addition to answering a desire for more active, open spaces in our community, a restored alley (boarded up doors and windows are visible from outside) could help address existing challenges such as safety and cleanliness for nearby residents and customers and the dumping of trash.  The alley is also currently used by members of our community facing addiction and homelessness and we are exploring ways to integrate harm reduction services and other supports into the project.

“This is a great opportunity for the college and the Capitol Hill community. As an urban campus, we enjoy an eclectic student body and a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood. Activating this alley will benefit the college and our neighbors,” says Lincoln Ferris, Consultant to the President at Seattle Central College.

We are committed to engaging community members in a process that respects and strives to meet the needs of everyone who currently uses and might use the alley. Public space belongs to everyone, and everyone should feel welcome. We have created a convening group that will help guide the community engagement process.

We are seeking other members for this group.  If you have a connection to the alley and are interested in getting involved please contact project manager Alex Brennan at abrennan@capitolhillhousing.org.

This group currently includes the following individuals:

Julie Tall, Owner of Capitol Cider
Lincoln Ferris, Seattle Central College
Brian Steen, Building Manager for Broadway Crossing Apartments
Andrew Niece, SIFF/Egyptian
Ana Klisara, Starbucks
Joshua Wallace, Seattle Area Support Groups
Curtis Walton, Central Seattle Greenways

Interview with Resident Services Coordinator Brittany Williams

Brittany Williams, Resident Services Coordinator

Brittany Williams loves creating spaces of possibility. In her time so far at Resident Services, she’s worked to build community within CHH that includes residents by connecting one-on-one and by being an integral part of that community herself.

Brittany’s position is unique. While other Resident Services Coordinators are assigned to specific buildings, she is charged with developing a holistic program that will serve the residents of many buildings at once. To do this, she is working hard to assess needs, to build relationships with local service providers, and to create systems to prevent and handle crises.

Of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of partnering with the YMCA to host Money Mechanics, a four-week financial literacy program that received overwhelming positive feedback from its 44 participating residents. Upon completion, participants received six months of financial coaching and a savings benefit of up to $1,000. She looks forward to hosting other workshops like these for adults and children.

For Brittany, success means that residents experience a strong sense of belonging within the CHH community. She believes that this is best accomplished by empowering people to advocate for themselves by creating as many choices as possible. Now that her department has grown from three to six staff members, she looks forward to many more programs that make a difference in the lives of CHH residents.

Public Notice

Closing of the 18th Ave Apartment (2bdrm), 412 Apartments, El Nor, Elizabeth James House, Haines Apartments (Studios), Hazel Plaza (2&3 Bdrm), Holden Vista (2&3 Bdrm), Mary Ruth Manor (2&3 Bdrm), and Union James Section 8 Waiting Lists. Effective August 3, 2018: Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) will close the Section 8 waiting lists at these buildings.

CHH will NOT accept any NEW applications for any waiting lists on or after this date until further notice.

When a waiting list becomes longer than the amount of people we can service within
two – three years, we stop taking applications. Because we have very few vacancies, we expect it will take a long time before we can assist applicants already on the waiting lists. Therefore, we have no plans to re-open these waiting lists in the near future.

The closures are effective August 3, 2018 and shall remain in effect until further notice. No applications will be accepted for these buildings while the waiting lists are closed. When CHH is prepared to re-open these waiting lists, an announcement will be posted on our website and in the local newspaper.

While CHH will not be taking new applications during the time the waiting lists are closed, staff will continue to process those currently on the lists and make unit offers as vacancies occur. You are still required to update your personal information by submitting changes in writing.

For more on the CHH properties subsidized by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), go here.