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Seattle Housing Levy Fast-Tracks New Homeless Housing at The Clay

On March 23 the Low Income Housing Institute, a Seattle-based affordable housing provider, cut the ribbon and opened the doors to the newly constructed Clay Apartments.  Located in the heart of Capitol Hill, the building offers 76 efficiency units that LIHI will dedicate to people experiencing homelessness or highly vulnerable to homelessness – including apartments dedicated to veterans. 

The Clay wasn’t always intended as affordable housing. Its private developers planned to lease the apartments at market rates upon completion. But today’s momentary softening in the real estate market sparked an opportunity:  just prior to completion, the developers contacted the Office of Housing to see if we were interested in acquiring this brand new property on behalf of an affordable housing provider.  

The answer was yes – so long as the price was right.  After several rounds of negotiations, OH, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, and the National Equity Fund’s Preservation Fund invested about $18 million to help LIHI acquire the building. 

The whole deal was sealed within the space of five months, proving that real estate savvy, quick action, and adequate resources can move real people into permanently affordable homes with very little delay. OH Director Emily Alvarado sums it up: “We know how to solve homelessness:  people need a home they can afford, they need services, and they need community to be healthy and stable.  We hear so much focus on interim solutions and suggestions that housing takes too long. The Clay proves otherwise.” 

The Clay makes 76 affordable homes immediately available to formerly homeless individuals and veterans. The building offers amenities and ground floor space that is easily adapted to its new residents:  a rooftop deck, community kitchen, library, computer lab, and counseling offices. Its Capitol Hill location provides access easy access to transit, services, and employment opportunities.  And there will be case management on site, provided by the Veterans Administration. 

Stephen, a formerly homeless veteran, is currently moving out of a tiny house village and into a permanent apartment at the Clay.  “I am no longer homeless,” says Stephen.  “Today is a milestone for LIHI and the homeless community. Today 76 people of all races and nationalities [can] begin the next step.”  Welcome home, Stephen.  

NextCity had some great coverage of The Clay’s opening:  here