North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Larsen visits Housing Hope project

 

Christopher Andersson

From left, Housing Hope CEO Fred Safstrom, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Housing Hope Housing Director Bobby Thompson and Housing Hope Director of Social Services Elizabeth Kohl discuss Housing Hope’s newest housing project in Lakewood on Dec. 13.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen visited the future Housing Hope project in Lakewood that will house many local homeless and low-income families.

The construction is scheduled to begin shortly and finish sometime in the summer.

“Probably the middle to end of August, pretty quick all things considered,” said Bobby Thompson, housing director at Housing Hope.

The organization has provided homes for low-income and homeless individuals in Snohomish County for nearly 30 years.

Their new Lakewood project would house 50 families. It will be their largest housing project to date when completed.

About 75 percent of those homes will go to individuals trying to recover from being homeless.

“A project like this is important because we’re seeing an increase in housing demand and lower supply, so the need for affordable housing in Snohomish County for families is critical and Housing Hope is helping to fill that,” said Larsen.

Many areas in Washington state have populations that are growing faster than homes are being created, according to Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope.

“We have a great jobs market here and so people are moving here for these jobs, for this climate, and we’re seeing increases in population and the housing/development capacity is not here to keep up with it all,” he said. “Those at the bottom end of the income scale just can’t keep up.”

Housing Hope’s projects include support for those trying to lift themselves out of poverty.

“They’re all going to have intensive support to help them address their issues,” said Safstrom.

This support includes life skills classes, child development services and job training programs.

Community spaces in the housing project also provide a place for residents to receive help.

“We work with DSHS, WorkSource and community centers, and can share that space to better outreach to our residents,” said Elizabeth Kohl, director of social services at Housing Hope.

Housing Hope officials say that housing alone will not solve all problems for these families.

“We began to think about solving the issue of homelessness and realized it [housing alone] is not enough,” said Safstrom. “The real answer is to solve the issue of poverty,” he said.

The housing project has been paid for by a combination of government grants and private funding.

Those private contributions totaled about $800,000, said Safstrom.

“Housing Hope has been very fortunate with the amount of community support it receives,” he said.

Government grants also made up a significant portion of the funding for the construction of the project.

“It’s half what it used to be, but it’s still extremely valuable,” said Safstrom.

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Larsen said he plans to argue for funding like that to continue, but expects pushback on that kind of spending in the future.

“There will be some discussion, as it always happens in these situations, like it did in the [George W.] Bush administration, and as I expect in the next one, where people will say ‘well, we’ll cut this but it’ll be made up in private money,’” he said. “It doesn’t always work that way.”

The new Housing Hope housing will be constructed near Twin Lakes. The non-profit organization also owns three adjacent acres to the project and could expand in the future.

More information about Housing Hope is available at housinghope.org.

 

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