HopeWorks’ goal: Create jobs, help build careers

Change is coming to a stretch of Broadway near Everett Station. And if a vision is realized, the project will alter more than the streetscape. By bringing jobs, training and housing together, it will transform lives.

HopeWorks Social Enterprises, an affiliate of the local nonprofit Housing Hope, recently bought a building at 3331 Broadway. It’s the beginning of a multiphase project called HopeWorks Station.

The agency also acquired three vacant lots just north of the building. Formerly Everett MRI &Diagnostic Center, the building is across Broadway from Compass Health.

Launched in 2011, HopeWorks is a nonprofit corporation that runs self-sustaining businesses. Creating jobs, building skills, and helping low-income people move up the wage ladder are the goals.

“This is a demonstration project of what’s possible,” said Ed Petersen, who later this year will leave his job as executive director of Housing Hope to focus on HopeWorks. He has been heading both agencies, but will soon be executive director only of HopeWorks.

He expects to make the change by Sept. 30. “That’s the 27th birthday of the founding of Housing Hope,” Petersen said Friday. In the 1980s, he was among Housing Hope founders who saw new faces of homelessness. They were families with children.

Today, Housing Hope owns 21 multifamily housing projects all over Snohomish County. “They are stable, thanks to the great investment from our community,” Petersen said. The next step is putting people “on pathways to income progression and careers,” he said. Businesses run by HopeWorks are places where Housing Hope residents can learn through internships and find jobs, Petersen said.

HopeWorks now operates three businesses — GroundWorks Landscaping, WaterWorks Irrigation Services, and the ReNeWorks Home and Decor Store — and employs 13 people. Those numbers are about to grow.

Beginning this summer, the ReNeWorks store will move into the building at Broadway and 34th Street, which is being renovated. The consignment store and online business, which sells gently used furnishings, has been in a Windermere Real Estate office south of the Housing Hope complex on Evergreen Way.

A Broadway storefront that raises HopeWorks’ visibility is just the beginning. Petersen said long-range plans include construction of a five-story building on Broadway that will combine housing and commercial space.

“Our goal is 100 more residential units for individuals who want to work,” he said. Those units would be for working adults, or those in training, not family housing.

“It will be for individuals hungry for work,” Petersen said.

The proximity of HopeWorks to Everett Station brings added benefits. The transit station is home to WorkSource Washington, the state’s employment services center. And with the facility close to transit, Housing Hope residents won’t need a car to get to a HopeWorks job or training.

With the new space on Broadway will come more HopeWorks businesses. Petersen said the agency hopes to expand by adding five new small businesses, for a total of eight.

Likely new businesses include a painting and paint recycling company; a business that would rework used lumber; and a restaurant, on the ground floor of a new Broadway building, that would also sell boxed lunches and do catering jobs. Petersen said Seattle’s FareStart cafe and culinary training program is a model.

The total price for the Broadway properties was $1.6 million, “a very good price for what we got,” Petersen said. The Everett MRI business “went bankrupt, and abandoned everything in the building in July,” he said. “It was a complicated transaction with multiple sellers and property that had been abandoned. We purposely kept it quiet until we took title.”

On April 1, a celebration was held at 3331 Broadway marking the third anniversary of HopeWorks. It was also a thank-you party for 19 people Petersen calls “social investors,” who have loaned money to achieve the HopeWorks mission. HopeWorks has also been awarded $800,000 in capacity-building funds, over three years, from supporters that include the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BECU and the Boeing Co.

Housing Hope started small, but with a big vision. With HopeWorks, Petersen sees a good chance to truly build lives.

“It takes structure, role models, and a can-do attitude,” he said. “That word ‘hope’ is so important. People have to believe their hard work will lead to something.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

About HopeWorks

Learn more about HopeWorks Social Enterprises, an affiliate of the nonprofit Housing Hope, at: www.hopewrks.org

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