Mercy Othello Plaza offers affordable housing just steps away from a light-rail station in Seattle, providing better access to jobs and educational opportunities as well as creating a space where families can thrive.

The 108-unit development is built on land Sound Transit had acquired in preparation for a new rail line. Upon completion of the line, the transit system was left with surplus properties in high-opportunity areas next to its stations.

Sound Transit partnered with the Equitable Transit Oriented Development Loan Fund, a group of private and public financial institutions that coordinates funding for land acquisition in transit-rich urban villages, to award the sites for affordable housing. Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) was selected to develop a site in the heart of Othello, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the region, with over 42 languages spoken.

The development is also notable because it comes at a time when more and more low-income families are being pushed out of the city and farther away from jobs and their neighborhoods. “This project serves as an anti-displacement tool for families that have been living in the community and have their roots here,” says Colin Morgan-Cross, associate director, real estate development, at MHNW.

Consisting of over 60% two- and three-bedroom units, Mercy Othello Plaza provides a permanent, stable home for many families and over 95 children. A large community room hosts preschool programs and other family-focused services. Prioritizing programs that focus on improving residents’ health, MHNW has also included clinic space in the new building and has partnered with three organizations to provide health-care services on-site.

The $31.7 million development also shows innovation in its financing, utilizing a condominium ownership structure and leveraging both 4% and 9% low-income housing tax credits. Using both tax credit programs allowed MHNW to create more units and integrate a greater mix of incomes than would have been possible under a typical financing structure. It also limited the need for the scarce 9% credits.

In another move, MHNW relocated its regional headquarters to the property’s ground floor.