Mon 10 Aug 2009
Three years ago, Aimee wouldn’t have considered needing affordable housing. She was living with her two children in Woodinville and sharing rent with a friend when a job loss forced her to move and find someplace else to live. She
wanted to live in the same area as her children’s school but affordable housing options were limited.
With help from the YWCA, Aimee and her kids were able to get settled again at the YWCA Family Village in Redmond. The stability of a roof overhead made it possible for Aimee to find a new, better paying job and get back on her feet. Today, she works as a medical assistant at Overlake Hospital and is renting a small house near her children’s school.
People like Aimee, and families like hers, will benefit from the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah: teachers, utility workers, postal workers, medical assistants and retail staff. Although their employment is vital to the local economy
and the services they provide make the quality of life better for everyone, salaries for these occupations range between $27,000 to $45,000 – well outside the living wage for a family – and makes it almost impossible for them to find homes near their jobs and forces them to commute long distances.
Construction of new affordable housing is more important than ever on the Eastside. The statistics are startling: 20,000 families are at risk of becoming homeless; meanwhile existing temporary and affordable housing capacity is
overburdened. The primary cause of homelessness on the Eastside is lack of affordable housing – higher than anywhere else in King County. The second most common cause is lack of a living wage, indicating a significant gap between housing prices and wages for many families. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Bellevue is $1,120. A person has to work 78 hours per week at $11.11 per hour to afford that. In fact, the living wage in Washington for a family of three is $23.39 an hour, nearly three times the minimum wage.
It is specifically families struggling with this gap between wages and the cost of housing that the YWCA hopes to welcome into the Family Village at Issaquah in 2011: working families, people with disabilities and seniors, seeking an affordable place to live, raise children, age comfortably, build fulfilling lives and contribute to their community.
Located directly east of the Highlands Drive Park and Ride, the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah will be made up of three buildings with 146 apartments ranging in size from studios to three-bedrooms. The YWCA is also bringing additional community amenities, including space for a licensed child care and community gathering spaces. There will be program space for parenting classes, computer education and financial planning to help strengthen the independence and stability of all residents. These family and community support services are a signature of the YWCA’s programming.
Financing efforts have already yielded substantial public and private commitments, including: $4 million from the State of Washington Housing Trust Fund, $1.5 million from King County’s Housing Finance Program and eastside city support through ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing). These efforts have been impacted by the turbulent financial markets and economy; however, the YWCA continues to move forward on its plans to start site work during 2009 on the parcel of land donated through the City of Issaquah. The bulk of construction is expected to occur in 2010 with families moving in the following year. More information on the YWCA can be found at www.ywcaworks.org.