A partnership among four nonprofits is providing a vibrant, sustainable community under one roof in Seattle’s University District.
Affordable housing developer Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has teamed with three other nonprofits on its mixed-use building, The Marion West, named in honor of the civil rights activist who provided safe housing to homeless young people in the community decades earlier.
Twenty studio units are set aside for homeless young adults, with nonprofit YouthCare bringing those residents off the streets and offering on-site services to prepare them for independent living. An additional 28 units are affordable to low-income workers earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income.
The University District Food Bank, which had been operating in a church basement, has 5,900 square feet of interior space to provide access to healthy food in a grocery store model to residents and the greater community. It also has a 7,000-square-foot rooftop organic farm made of stacked surplus milk crates for growing fresh produce.
Street Bean Coffee, a social impact company, operates a public café at the ground level and provides barista training programs to help homeless young adults develop job skills.
“What an incredible thing the number of young adults and people the building helps in a great location close to jobs, education, and transportation so that people’s incomes don’t dictate that they are pushed to the margins,” says Robin Amadon, housing development director at LIHI.
Completed in June 2016, LIHI and the University District Food Bank had to compete for and secure no less than eight sources of financing for the $17.5 million development, including a construction loan provided by KeyBank to bridge permanent sources. The Marion West received support from the city, county, and state, including an allocation of low-income housing tax credits, with National Equity Fund as the equity investor.