Take a seat and support fund that aids new renters

They can afford rent, but not move-in costs. That’s the barrier to stable housing faced by many people living on the financial edge.

Rent for even one-bedroom apartments in Snohomish County can easily approach $1,000 a month. Renters inevitably face the added first and last months’ rent plus a damage deposit before getting the keys to a place to call home.

Since 1991, a fund established by real estate agents in Snohomish County has helped renters, many coming out of shelters, to overcome that barrier. It’s called the Homeless Endowment Fund. Organized by the Snohomish County Camano Association of Realtors, and now administered by Volunteers of America Western Washington, the fund loans move-in costs to qualified renters.

“It’s kind of a passion of mine,” said Kay Frederickson, a real estate agent who works at the Windermere Real Estate office in Mill Creek. “It’s a huge struggle for people trying to get out of a bad situation and get into permanent housing. They can’t put together first, last and a damage deposit.”

Frederickson has been involved in raising money for the Homeless Endowment Fund since 1996. In years past, that meant organizing a gala auction.

This year, a fresh idea will boost the fund’s coffers. A Chairs for Charity Luncheon is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Schack Art Center in downtown Everett. The artsy venue is a nice fit for an artistic idea.

Donors have decorated chairs of all kinds in unique ways. Chairs will be sold by auction at the luncheon, which costs $30 to attend.

The chair theme suits the goal — getting people into stable homes. “It makes perfect sense to me,” said Frederickson, chairwoman of the charitable Windermere Foundation for Snohomish County. She spread the word to other real estate agents, asking if they would be willing to donate a custom chair.

“I see it as a way to work together,” she said. Frederickson’s goal for the event is $30,000 to $40,000, which she said could help 30 to 40 families a year.

Frederickson said the fund lends up to $1,000, interest-free. “They can pay it back 5 or 10 bucks a month,” she said.

Applications for help from the fund are made at Volunteers of America, Frederickson said, and those being served are usually moving from area shelters.

As a preview, some of the chairs are being displayed at area businesses. Frederickson said Rodland Toyota Scion planned to put a UW Huskies chair in a truck in its showroom. Coastal Community Bank and Renee’s, a women’s clothing store in downtown Everett, were also displaying chairs, she said.

Frederickson decorated three chairs, one by refashioning the back rest into a harp and covering the seat in fabric with a music pattern.

At Renee’s, the clothing store on Everett’s Colby Avenue, a long and low dressing-room chair now decorates the window. “It’s very retro and very cute,” Frederickson said of the chair that will soon benefit the Homeless Endowment Fund.

“We get a family out of a shelter or transitional housing, and we free up a bed for someone else, Frederickson said.”

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

Chairs for Charity

Decorated chairs will be auctioned at a Chairs for Charity Luncheon to benefit the Homeless Endowment Fund, which helps pay first and last month’s rent and damage deposits for people in need.

The event is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett.

Tickets are $30 and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/243168 or by calling 425-339-1388.

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