Join Us at the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival

Join us for the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival, April 29 to May 3. Presented by the Capitol Hill Arts District and Northwest Film Forum, the festival celebrates the creativity of Capitol Hill and offers community members a connection to interdisciplinary art during this unprecedented time. Northwest Film Forum will stream the festival simultaneously via Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook Live. The event will be free to all, though guests are encouraged to offer a donation on a sliding scale. All proceeds will go to the COVID-19 Artist Trust Relief Fund and will directly support individual artists. Explore the schedule, register, and learn more by following the link below.

Stormwater Matters: Here’s Why

The Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and the Seattle 2030 District have identified several areas in Capitol Hill that could be developed as stormwater retention sites.

In the Emerald City of the Evergreen State, there’s one green initiative that often gets overlooked: stormwater management. Stormwater is the runoff of rainwater and melted snow that directly impacts water quality. In a city that averages 38 inches of rain a year on a particularly hilly, impermeable topography, effective stormwater management becomes a pressing issue.

Rather than lament the perfect storm of factors that create this problem, the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict teamed up with the Seattle 2030 District to effect change. Steven Fry, programs director for the Seattle 2030 District, works on sustainability concerns every day. According to Steven, a stormwater walking tour was a natural first step.

“We figured we would take it to the public, engage with them, see what features they liked, and get a better sense of where they wanted work to be prioritized in the neighborhood,” Fry said. “The intention of the walk was, ‘How can we reimagine space in Capitol Hill that is either underutilized or overlooked to improve community resilience and improve public space with the added goal of stormwater management?’”

A walk in any direction in Capitol Hill will plainly reveal the issue the EcoDistrict and Seattle 2030 are driving at: cement abounds. According to Fry, the number one way to combat stormwater is to keep the water on site – how it would behave in a natural setting. However, in an increasingly developed urban setting, it becomes difficult to identify viable opportunities for green space.

“The vast majority of people still don’t understand what stormwater is and why it’s an issue,” Fry said. “They just think it’s raining, and they’re like ‘Oh, bummer. It’s raining today.’ But what we want them to think about is: All this rain means that our sewer systems are likely overflowing right now, that there’s direct runoff that doesn’t even go into the sewer or just goes straight into the lakes.”

Stormwater is very pollutant heavy. Flowing through urban areas, the water picks up grease, oil, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, sediment – all the trappings of dense cities.

“These chemicals morph and evolve as they come into the water streams, and then that’s literally discharged straight into our waterways,” Fry said. “When you have a salmon corridor like we do, they’re swimming straight through all this water that’s very polluted, and it decimates salmon populations, so they can’t spawn, they just die. They lose all motor functions. And it’s just devastating to the salmon population, which is in turn starving the orcas because they don’t have enough food.”

Stormwater management has benefits that extend beyond preserving our salmon and orca populations. The utility of green space becomes multifaceted the further it’s examined.

“I think a very critical piece of this is that it isn’t just about stormwater,” Fry said. “Green space improves air quality; it reduces urban heat islands. It’s shown to improve the mental and physical health of the community. All of these features improve resiliency, especially as climate change impacts increase. Part of the goal of this is to make people realize how valuable these spaces are and what we can do to improve them and add more of them.”

The stormwater walk has been postponed, but Fry and EcoDistrict representatives remain optimistic that it will take place. Stay tuned for more details as the situation evolves.

LGBTQ-Affirming Affordable Senior Housing Project

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine Corridor

Project Address: 1515-1519 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

SDCI Project Number: 3032647-EG

LGBTQ-Affirming Senior Housing – Conceptual Drawing by Environmental Works

Project Description:

The LGBTQ Senior Housing project will provide 125 LGBTQ-affirming, affordable homes for seniors in the heart of Capitol Hill. The new construction, a 79,821 square foot building, will include an LGBTQ senior community & health services center on the ground level operated by GenPRIDE, a non-profit dedicated to providing services to the LGBTQ senior population in Seattle. Over 4,800 square feet of commercial retail space along the Broadway street front will be included within the landmarked façade of the Eldridge Tire Company and an adjacent building. Nearly a dozen community groups that serve or represent the LGBTQ population have participated in the planning for the project to ensure the building provides amenities and design features specific to the LGBTQ senior community.

Amenities for residents include a community room, landscaped patio, bike storage, and access to specialty services provided by GenPRIDE and other community-based service providers. 

Construction is expected to be completed in 2022.

Unit Mix and Income Levels:

The building includes 104 studio units and 21 one-bedroom units for seniors (age 55+) with incomes at 30%, 50% or 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI). 

Seattle Office of Housing income qualifications are available here.

Funding Sources:

  • City of Seattle Office of Housing
  • King County
  • Washington State Housing Trust Fund
  • Sound Transit*
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Equity
  • Permanent Bonds
  • Rise Together Capital Campaign

*Sound Transit is providing substantial support to the project in the form of discounted land acquisition costs

Architect: Environmental Works

Contact Information:

For questions or comments about the project, contact Mason Cavell at 1515Broadway@capitolhillhousing.org (note: any information collected may be made public).

For information on GenPRIDE, visit their website at www.genprideseattle.org.

Capitol Hill Housing logo

Partner Spotlight: GenPRIDE

Community meeting at GenPRIDE offices. Photo courtesy of GenPRIDE.

We’ve got some big news.

You may have heard that, in partnership with nine LGBTQ-serving organizations, we are building the first LGBTQ-affirming affordable housing for seniors in the Pacific Northwest. Guiding this effort is an Advisory Committee that includes Aging with Pride, Generations Aging with Pride (GenPRIDE), the Ingersoll Gender Center, LGBTQ Allyship, Country Doctor, Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, POCAAN, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), and Seattle Counseling Services.

The past six months have been busy as the Advisory Committee has navigated a site change to Broadway between Pike and Pine and the selection of a ground floor tenant: GenPRIDE. Focused on empowering older LGBTQ+ adults to live with pride and dignity, GenPRIDE promotes, connects, and develops innovative programs and services that enhance belonging and support, eliminate discrimination, and honor the lives of older members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The move to Broadway – originally, the building was to sit at the corner of 14th Avenue and East Union Street – brings better access to more amenities, including the Capitol Hill light rail station, and more visibility for the services that GenPRIDE and others will provide. If this project is funded by the Seattle Office of Housing this fall, we plan to break ground in December 2020.

With 90+ affordable apartments at 60% at or below area median income, a main goal of the project will be to create an anchor for a community at risk of displacement – one that provides health and social services to residents as well as community members not living on site. In addition to becoming its headquarters, GenPride will oversee space on the ground floor to serve community-determined needs.

“This housing project is significant for many reasons—the need for affordable housing is essential, especially for our LGBTQ elders. Many of us have been displaced to far-flung areas in the region where isolation and limited access to services creates more risk to our health and well-being,” says Steven Knipp, GenPRIDE’s Executive Director. “It is also important for us to reclaim Capitol Hill as the LGBTQ+ historic center—and placing this building right in the heart of the neighborhood sends a clear message that we are still here.”

In Development: Station House Update

Last June, we celebrated the groundbreaking for transit-oriented development above the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station. CHH will build 110 apartments affordable to households earning at or below 30%, 50%, and 60% of area median income in a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units at the corner of 10th Avenue East and East John Street. The building is being built with a goal of reaching a LEED Platinum standard and will also include a 1,409 square foot community room. CHH plans to complete the framing of the top story on this, our 50th building, during the week of May 20th.


  See below for an animated look at the evolution of Station House since June!

Photos courtesy of Charles Hall. GIF by Yiling Wong.

Partner Spotlight: Q&A with A-P Hurd

Recently, CHH Housing Development Associate Charles Hall sat down with A-P Hurd, President of SkipStone, a consulting firm that provides real estate and planning services to private and public clients. She is the former president of Touchstone, a real estate development company that built nearly 3 million square feet of office, retail, hotel, and residential space between 2007 and 2017 and won the national Developer of the Year award in 2016. With our real estate team, she has been developing a model for alternative financing which could make the creation of affordable housing less dependent on government funding. Earlier this month, she gave the keynote speech at CHH’s Top of the Town dinner.

Q: What do you think are some common misconceptions about developers and the kinds of changes that occur when cities grow and neighborhoods transform? What would you want people to know about this work?

A: In a growing city, developers are the people who create capacity for new arrivals. For many people who don’t like that their city is growing (and therefore changing), it’s easy to blame developers. But the reality is that development is a consequence of population and job growth, not the cause.

Human migration is the biggest cause of urban growth in places like Seattle. Regional migration for economic reasons is an even bigger demographic force in the US than immigration, but people talk about it a lot less. There’s a lot of “good liberals” in Seattle that are pro-immigration but anti-growth in Seattle—however, the people coming to Seattle from other parts of the country are driven by the same search for economic opportunity as immigrants. So why shouldn’t we make room for them?

We talk a lot in Seattle about “preserving neighborhood character”, but that may be less important than housing everyone who needs it in our region and doing so in a way that is transit-connected to areas of economic opportunity. If you’re a good liberal, that should be the biggest goal of all.

Still, developers make a convenient bogeyman when people aren’t feeling brave.

Q: Last fall, the Seattle Office of Housing received more than $250 million in applications for housing but had only $40 million in its coffers. That seems to indicate great need as well as great motivation on the part of developers to build affordable housing. Tell us more about why helping Capitol Hill Housing is important to you and why a market rate commercial real estate developer might be a good partner?

A: Capitol Hill Housing is one of the most innovative affordable housing providers in the region. I love that CHH thinks big and thinks about environment and housing. CHH also thinks creatively and systemically about problems and gets things done.

In fact, the workforce housing project that we are working on together recognizes the need for housing at all price points and the importance of getting housing into production quickly. We’re hoping to come up with private sector capital strategies that can build workforce housing (80-90% of average median income) in larger volumes in the hands of an experienced non-profit like CHH, and get it built faster than we might otherwise be able, given the limited availability of public funds for a traditional non-profit capital structure. If we can do something replicable, it will be a huge win.

Q: Do you have a life philosophy that ties to the work you do?

A: Hmmm. Yes, but haven’t boiled it down to 200 words yet. How about this:  Be kind, be myself, think in systems, own the problems and work them, and live like someone who’s only got one planet.

Q: Describe an ideal developer in three words.

A: Creative, empathetic, realistic.

Capitol Hill Housing Hires Community Liaison

Steven Sawada joined Capitol Hill Housing as Community Liaison in April
“My goal is to support the growth
of empowered, autonomous communities.”

Capitol Hill Housing welcomes Steven Sawada as our new Community Liaison. A resident of Capitol Hill for more than ten years, Steven joins us from Catholic Housing Services, an organization built around deep values and a commitment to its mission, he says.

Steven studied communities and networks at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance “to give language to the skills” of community engagement and policy-making. For years, he worked in residential home loan processing and made connections to his experience as a housed person living alongside houseless neighbors. Motivated, as he says, to “reconcile equity with urgency”, he charted a new path.

While volunteering at two Capitol Hill organizations, Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, a homeless meals program, and at Lambert House, a community center for LGBTQ youth, Steven was inspired by the resilience he observed in neighbors caring for one another. With support from his wife, he emphasizes, Steven sought to take on “wicked” problems – those that are systemic, perpetual, and ingrained.

At CHH, Steven’s work will focus on neighborhoods beyond Capitol Hill. A Community Liaison like Steven is an important and valuable addition to our team, especially as we continue to grow the number of projects done in partnership with other organizations and communities.

Steven hopes “to work with communities that have been historically disenfranchised and who are in danger of displacement in our rapidly growing, changing region”. To do that, he will listen to what has been working, acknowledging the expertise that lives within the invisible network of every neighborhood that has held itself together despite threatening odds.

We’re Hiring: Senior Real Estate Developer

Scenes from the June 2017 groundbreaking at the Liberty Bank Building at 2320 E Union Street.

Capitol Hill Housing is looking for a full-time Senior Real Estate Developer. Join an exciting team responsible for helping us build and preserve affordability in Seattle. Interested in applying? Read more about the positionYou can learn more about some of our real estate projects in development on our website.

Since 1976, Capitol Hill Housing has worked alongside the community to build and preserve housing affordable to working families and promote the qualities that make Seattle a vibrant and engaged city. Today, we provide secure, affordable homes to over 2,200 of our neighbors across the city while working to make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and more equitable through the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.

Read more about the position.

CHH and the Housing Levy

Seattle voters have a strong record of support for affordable housing at the ballot box. Since 1981, voters have approved one bond and four levies to provide money to keep the city affordable. Seattle has now funded over 12,500 affordable apartments for seniors, low- and moderate-wage workers, and formerly homeless individuals and families. Those same funds have provided homeownership assistance to more than 900 first-time low-income home buyers and emergency rental assistance to more than 6,500 households. Voters face another big choice this August.

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