Every single person deserves a safe place to sleep at night, but sadly, this is not accessible for many people who struggle to find stable, affordable homes. Solid Ground acknowledges that the critical lack of affordable permanent housing in the Seattle area stands as a significant barrier for those living on low or fixed incomes as they work to restabilize after homelessness.
We understand the importance of stable housing to achieve other goals such as maintaining a job, nurturing mental and physical health, gaining independence, and establishing meaningful connections.
To address this problem, Solid Ground recently converted two residences from transitional to a permanent supportive housing, providing residents the opportunity to stabilize at their own pace surrounded by a strong support system. More permanent, supportive housing means we can better serve the diverse needs of the community members we house.
Bethlehem House is a large six-bedroom home in West Seattle owned by Solid Ground. Until recently, it was a part of Solid Ground’s Family Shelter program, providing short-term housing for families with children experiencing homelessness. In response to the shortage of affordable housing in our area, we made the decision in 2019 to convert Bethlehem House to permanent supportive housing for families with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.
“Knowing that they do not have to move again or within a certain timeframe is a huge relief to every resident and instantly creates a space of reassurance and stability to someone who has been chronically homeless for years.” ~Tamara Brown, Sand Point Residential Services Program Manager
Housing Planning, Development & Operations Director, Humberto Alvarez, explains, “We knew that housing for large families was difficult to find for families holding a Section 8 voucher, and sometimes the voucher expired before the family was able to secure housing.”
With the capacity to house up to 12 people, Bethlehem House now provides a permanent home for one large or extended family, which might otherwise have difficulty securing adequate housing.
Originally constructed in 1957, Bethlehem House required some additional work to prepare for long-term residency and to meet Seattle Housing Authority standards for Section 8 housing, including:
- New flooring and interior painting throughout
- Replacing windows in need of repair and worn out appliances
- Renovations in all three of the house’s bathrooms
- Yardwork, landscaping, and exterior updates
Renovations wrapped up around the end of 2019, and we are pleased to report that as of February 1, Bethlehem House’s first permanent residents moved in and are settled into their new home.
Since 2008, Santos Place has delivered low-barrier housing for single adults exiting homelessness as part of the Sand Point Housing campus. Originally encompassing 42 transitional housing units (stays up to 12 months) and eight permanent affordable housing units, all Santos Place units recently converted to permanent affordable housing.
Solid Ground’s Sand Point Residential Team recognizes that people with previous experiences with homelessness have very limited opportunities to move out of transitional housing into permanent housing due to our region’s affordable housing shortage. Waitlists for public subsidized housing can last four to five years, and the majority of new developments are targeted toward higher-income earners.
Sand Point Residential Services Program Manager Tamara Brown explains, “Roughly 70% of the current residents at Santos Place have disabilities or are over 50 years old living on fixed incomes, which would not allow transition to market-rate housing. The focus of the new program will be to provide residents with the resources they need to maintain their housing and improve their quality of life, including connections to treatment, mental health services, medical resources, employment opportunities, and basic needs.”
Additionally, Tamara shares, “Knowing that they do not have to move again or within a certain timeframe is a huge relief to every resident and instantly creates a space of reassurance and stability to someone who has been chronically homeless for years. The rent will remain affordable, and case management supports will increase in our efforts to create a self-sufficient, functioning community where residents are happy and thriving in their own homes.
“For many of those folks, Santos Place will be the first opportunity in years to sleep inside, in their own beds, cook dinner in their kitchens, and come back home in the evening to a community that is safe and welcoming.”
“Santos Place first allowing short-term housing was a Godsend; Santos Place converting to permanent housing is a miracle. I have a new lease on life and am enjoying the thought of productive years ahead!” ~Santos Place Resident
These words from one of Santos Place’s current residents demonstrate the impact of this strategic shift for the community members who have called Santos home: “Santos Place first allowing short-term housing was a Godsend; Santos Place converting to permanent housing is a miracle. I have a new lease on life and am enjoying the thought of productive years ahead!”
We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity, especially as we grapple with the implications of COVID-19 and the virus’ disproportionate effects on the people we serve. Permanent housing at Santos Place will create greater stability for residents in the building, on campus, and in the community. We look forward to collaborating with the new long-term residents to develop new programs and opportunities to improve quality of life.