DJC: Another Housing Effort from Amazon

At Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties, we’re excited to share some incredible news that promises to make homeownership dreams a reality for many families in our region. Amazon, known for its commitment to housing equity, has launched a groundbreaking pilot program in partnership with the nonprofit National Housing Trust. This initiative aims to invest a staggering $40 million towards increasing homeownership opportunities, marking a significant expansion of Amazon’s $2 billion national Housing Equity Fund.

Amazon’s Remarkable Impact So Far

For the past two years, Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund has played a pivotal role in supporting and preserving hundreds of affordable rental units in our region, and an impressive 5,300 units nationwide. The positive impact on our community has been tangible and inspiring, but now, Amazon is taking its commitment to housing equity to the next level.

A New Frontier: Homeownership

With this new pilot program, Amazon is shifting its focus towards homeownership. Senthil Sankaran, a representative of the Housing Equity Fund, expressed, “This new initiative will allow us to explore ways to help more moderate-income households realize their dreams of homeownership and, in turn, help build wealth that can pass on to the next generation.” This shift in focus is a testament to Amazon’s dedication to addressing the housing challenges faced by families across the nation.

A Strong Partnership with Local Nonprofits

In our region, Amazon’s pilot program will collaborate with several outstanding nonprofits dedicated to affordable housing, including African Community Housing & Development, Homestead Community Land Trust, and, of course, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties.

Habitat for Humanity is set to receive an undisclosed amount of fund money to assist 50 families in making down payments on their homes this year. But that’s not all – we have even more exciting news! Habitat for Humanity is planning to construct 240 new homes for the sales market, with the invaluable support of the pilot program.

What’s Next?

As we eagerly anticipate more details from our partners at African Community Housing & Development and Homestead Community Land Trust, we can’t help but feel a sense of optimism and hope. Together with Amazon and these esteemed nonprofits, we are taking crucial steps towards creating sustainable, affordable homeownership opportunities for families in our community.

This initiative is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when organizations and communities come together with a shared vision. We’re thrilled to be part of this transformative journey towards a future where everyone has a place to call home.

For more information on this exciting development, please read the full article in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Stay tuned for updates as we continue working diligently to make homeownership dreams a reality for more families in Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties!

Seattle Times: Amazon pledges $40M for affordable homeownership in Seattle and beyond

In a groundbreaking move, Amazon has committed $40 million in grants and loans to support affordable homeownership projects across the United States, with a significant focus on the Seattle area. This announcement marks a remarkable expansion of Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, initially launched in 2021, which primarily supported affordable rental developments. However, this recent commitment represents Amazon’s first significant step into the world of affordable homeownership.

Read the full Seattle Times article here.

Why Affordable Homeownership Matters

The significance of this initiative lies in the understanding that homeownership is a critical factor in addressing the nation’s racial wealth gap. Data from 2021 reveals a stark disparity in homeownership rates, with 68% of white people in Washington owning their homes compared to 35% of Black people and 47% of Hispanic people. Bridging this gap is essential for promoting economic equity and stability.

Amazon’s Commitment to Affordable Homeownership

Amazon has chosen to allocate this $40 million to the nonprofit National Housing Trust, which will then provide loans and support to several nonprofits working on homeownership projects in various regions. Notably, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties is set to receive a low-interest loan to facilitate the construction of four crucial projects:

  1. Cottages in South Park: These cozy homes are designed to offer affordable housing options in a vibrant neighborhood.
  2. Condos in Capitol Hill and Columbia City: These condominiums provide homeownership opportunities in two sought-after Seattle neighborhoods.
  3. Townhomes in Burien: Located in a charming community, these townhomes aim to make homeownership dreams come true.

Habitat for Humanity’s commitment to providing homes for households making 80% of the county area median income or less underscores their dedication to promoting affordability and inclusivity in homeownership.

Impact on Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties

For Habitat for Humanity, this funding comes at a critical time when securing financing has become more challenging due to rising interest rates. The low-interest Amazon funding will play a pivotal role in ensuring that these important projects continue without delays.

Moreover, a grant from Amazon will provide down payment assistance to approximately 50 Habitat homebuyers over the next year and a half, further facilitating their journey towards homeownership.

Collaboration and Community Engagement

Amazon’s support doesn’t stop there. The tech giant is also extending its assistance to African Community Housing & Development, collaborating with Habitat for Humanity to develop affordable condos and townhomes along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Rainier Valley. This initiative aims to create not just homes but also employment opportunities and community stability.

Additionally, Homestead Community Land Trust will use a grant from Amazon to partner with community organizations in areas where residents face a high risk of displacement. By empowering communities and giving residents a say in neighborhood developments, this initiative seeks to create sustainable, community-driven change.

The Road Ahead

The Seattle region has grappled with housing challenges, and while Amazon has sometimes been a target of criticism, it’s important to recognize the complexity of these issues, including zoning restrictions and various contributing factors.

Since 2021, Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund has committed a substantial $524 million to preserve or build over 5,300 units of affordable housing in the Puget Sound region. However, the demand for affordable rental and for-sale homes still surpasses available resources. King County alone needs nearly 17,000 new homes each year for the next two decades, with more than half of them being affordable to low-income individuals and families.

The commitment of Amazon and its partners is a step in the right direction, but it also underscores the need for a broader mobilization of resources and a collective effort to address the pressing need for affordable housing. We must work together to bridge the gap and create homeownership opportunities for all, ensuring a brighter and more equitable future for our communities.

At Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties, we are deeply grateful for Amazon’s support and remain dedicated to our mission of building affordable homes and empowering families to achieve the dream of homeownership. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of countless individuals and families in our region.

KOMO 4: Habitat for Humanity’s La Fortuna Development Dedication

Watch the Video: Celebrating a Milestone

Relive a heartwarming moment of celebration and community unity as KOMO 4 looks back on the unforgettable dedication event of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties’ La Fortuna development. In this clip, the spirit of compassion and transformation comes alive as families, volunteers, and supporters gather to mark a significant milestone in the journey of creating safe and secure homes for those in need.

A Day of Joyful Unveiling

KOMO 4’s coverage encapsulates the vibrant atmosphere of the dedication event, where excitement and gratitude fill the air. Families, who have eagerly awaited this moment, stand side by side with volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort to bring these dreams to life. Against the backdrop of the La Fortuna development, the scene is set for an inspiring celebration of resilience and collaboration.

Impact in Every Frame

It’s evident that the La Fortuna development isn’t just about houses; it’s about homes that radiate warmth, security, and belonging. The expressions of families as they receive the keys to their new homes – a symbol of a brighter future and the beginning of a new chapter. The joy in their eyes reflects the incredible impact that Habitat for Humanity brings to their lives.

Join the Celebration

Whether you were part of the dedication event or are experiencing it through this video, the invitation remains the same – be a part of this incredible journey of transformation. By watching, sharing, and supporting Habitat for Humanity, you become a vital contributor to the cycle of change that empowers families and uplifts communities.

Relive the Moment: Watch the Video

Enhancing Accessibility for All: A Conversation with Habitat for Humanity and AARP

At Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties, we believe that everyone deserves a safe and comfortable place to call home. Our commitment to creating accessible living spaces doesn’t just stop at building houses; it extends to ensuring that these homes cater to the diverse needs of all residents, including our older community members.

Recently, our mission to enhance accessibility got a spotlight on New Day NW. AARP’s Marguerite Ro and Habitat for Humanity’s Cliff Cawthon engaged in a thought-provoking conversation about innovative ways to make homes and apartments more accessible for older residents. The insightful discussion highlighted our shared dedication to creating environments that promote comfort, independence, and inclusivity.

Watch the conversation here

Marguerite Ro, representing AARP, brought a wealth of knowledge to the table. With AARP’s focus on empowering older adults to live their best lives, Marguerite delved into strategies and ideas to adapt living spaces to evolving needs. Cliff Cawthon, representing Habitat for Humanity, shed light on our organization’s efforts to integrate accessibility features seamlessly into our home construction process.

From ramps and widened doorways to thoughtful interior designs that consider mobility challenges, the discussion touched on a myriad of ways we can create spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. Both AARP and Habitat for Humanity emphasized the significance of community collaboration and education to foster a deeper understanding of accessibility needs.

As we celebrate the strides we’ve made in building homes, this conversation reminds us that our work doesn’t end with construction. It’s about building a sense of belonging, dignity, and independence for all. We’re grateful for the opportunity to engage with AARP and explore the transformative power of accessibility in homes.

At Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties, we’re committed to continuously learning and evolving to better serve our community. This enlightening conversation with AARP reinforces our dedication to creating spaces that embrace diversity, empower individuals, and promote a higher quality of life for everyone.

Join us in this journey of making homes accessible and welcoming for all members of our community. Together, we can create a world where everyone has a place to call home.

Daily Journal of Commerce: 65 Rainier Valley units, all affordable, to sprout on former SoundTransit land

Real Estate Editor

Sound Transit began the process a few years ago to dispose of surplus property in the Rainier Valley, with the intent of creating affordable housing. Ten small sites with about 1.6 acres were later conveyed to the city of Seattle in the fall of 2021. Under what’s known as the Rainier Valley Affordable Homeownership Initiative, the goal is to create some 100 permanently affordable units — all owned, not rented.

The city more recently issued a series of requests for proposals, and affordable housing developers have since begun filing some plans. Most are small, meaning townhouse-scale development.

However, two nonprofits have been working with two architects on a pair of mid-rise projects to total 62 units for the sales market — i.e. affordable condos. Three townhouses are planned on a different site, which we’ll ignore for now. Thus, 65 affordable in total. Design review isn’t required for such entirely affordable housing.

Click the link to read the full article.