An expanded mission

  • By Julie Muhlstein Herald Writer
  • Friday, January 7, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

EVERETT — When Housing Hope was born 23 years ago, one huge need was clear: affordable housing.

Today, the Everett-based nonprofit agency has completed more than 50 housing projects. It oversees 18 multi-family facilities from Stanwood to Monroe

. More than 200 families have built their own homes through a sweat-equity program.

Thursday began a new chapter. Ed Petersen, executive director of Housing Hope, announced the founding of a separate nonprofit corporation, HopeWorks Social Enterprises.

Again, one huge need is clear: employment.

The goals of HopeWorks are to create real jobs and real wage progression, said Petersen, also executive director of the new entity.

Petersen announced the start of HopeWorks at the new Mt. Bakerview Apartments near Everett’s Jackson Park. The apartment complex in north Everett has a unique history and will play an important role.

One of four new employment initiatives for low-income families under the HopeWorks umbrella is called Ten Degrees. It will offer 10 families who have gone through Housing Hope’s transitional programs the chance to live at the Mt. Bakerview Apartments, for affordable rent, while a family member attends college.

Originally built as a condominium, the 21-unit building was bought by Housing Hope after it went into foreclosure, according to Fred Safstrom, Housing Hope’s deputy executive director. Funds for the purchase included $1,084,314 from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, part of the federal stimulus package, plus a tax-exempt bond program for about $1.2 million through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

On Thursday, tours were offered of the newly renovated apartments. Built in 1991 and operated as apartments, the building underwent a condominium conversion in 2007. When units didn’t sell after the economy went sour, the building went into foreclosure.

Housing Hope worked with the bank owner, Pacific International Bank, to buy the building. The two-bedroom units have granite countertops, views of Jackson Park, and washers and dryers. A lower-level storage space was converted into a child care area with an adjacent study room.

Ten Degrees doesn’t include tuition assistance, but the students living there will work with an educational specialist to secure financial aid and learn to navigate higher education. The apartments are near bus lines to Everett Community College.

Three other programs for Housing Hope families are part of HopeWorks. Along with Ten Degrees, they all aim for what Petersen calls a “year-13” mission of helping families move into higher education or toward career-level incomes.

Property Works pairs internships in property management with EvCC college credit. Participants get the chance to earn 19 college credits, a certificate in property management and 400 hours of internship. The program started last year, and nine of 13 students had job offers before they finished, Petersen said. This year, 32 are enrolled, and the expanded program offers certificate specialties in office leasing and green maintenance.

YouthBuild, an existing program, is also part of HopeWorks. It offers high school dropouts construction experience through Housing Hope’s sweat-equity home ownership program. Participants earn GED certificates through EvCC plus college credits in construction through Edmonds Community College.

A new program called CATCH — Creating Access to Careers in Healthcare — is the fourth HopeWorks jobs program. Housing Hope will recruit from its low-income families to participate in federally funded health career training through EdCC. Certificates can be earned in one of 11 health fields.

At Thursday’s ceremony, new HopeWorks board President Bill Yoakum, of the Boeing Co., took the gavel and formally created the nonprofit corporation.

Earlier this week, Petersen said that research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed that after one year, hourly pay for residents who had left Housing Hope services had only grown from $9 to $11.

Higher incomes are key to housing stability, and HopeWorks aims to address that need, Petersen said. Once-homeless families involved in HopeWorks will already have experience in Housing Hope’s life skills education.

HopeWorks is carefully structured not to put the successes of Housing Hope at risk, Petersen said. Founded by faith communities and built into a multi-service housing development corporation, Housing Hope is going strong.

HopeWorks, Petersen said, is “an incubator, a whole new employment entity.” The goal is for new enterprises to pay their own way.

“We’re creating new businesses,” Petersen said.

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

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