Sand Point Housing’s young artists

Eleven young artists discovered the Officer’s Club at the Magnuson Park Gallery. This former office of a naval commander became a worksite for young residents of Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing community. These teens now look out the window to see the fruition of their own leadership – 12 vibrant art panels breathing life back into a decrepit brick building.

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Eight finished panels installed on one side of the building.

The Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange (SPACE) has long sought a solution for the slowly deteriorating building across from the gallery. With the City of Seattle investing funds to stabilize it, and future development projects expected, installing art panels on the exterior walls provides an immediate solution for threading cultural value into the building. The Department of Neighborhoods’ substantial contribution and the Seattle Parks and Recreation staff and financial help made hiring a contractor and art teacher feasible. The 11 teens infused the spirit of their community into the artwork.

Abdi

Sand Point youth paints the corner of a panel.

The teaching artist, Angela Larsen, implemented a process that promised a professional product while staying true to the young artists’ vision and work. The teens began their project by exploring color palettes, and learning how to adjust color shades by mixing paint. They then walked through the park, finding inspiration in plant textures and nature’s own artwork. Angela combined the feedback from the kids, and her own Scandinavian design ethic, and created a design outline that exclusively used three shades of green and three shades of red. In the coming four Saturdays, the young artists put paint to panel and brought the design plan to fruition.

As all good work deserves, the young artists will be paid a $150 stipend at a celebratory barbecue in the near future. However, that paycheck does not fully represent the value the panel project provides to the community and the participants. The Executive Director of SPACE, Julianna Ross, observed “how their skills improved from the first session to the last session. They knew how to load the brush, and make the lines… they gained some skills!” She commented on the warranted pride many of the teens felt for the panels. Working so many hours on the panels familiarized the resident teens with the gallery building and other areas they had not known existed. Showcasing their artwork on a main street bridges a comfort gap between the families living in the park and the community park buildings.

The young artists look up at the paintings and recognize that it’s their work, that they made it for the community. If you can afford their rate, enlist them in another mural project. Their paint brushes are ready.

COMPARED TO WHAT?

Poetry zine gives voice to Sand Point Housing youthCover of Compared to What? A publication of Solid Ground's Sand Point Young Artist Workshop

The youth who live at Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing campus do not see themselves as a continuation of their parents’ lives. “I get super annoyed when I am compared,” one girl says. “It’s just irritating because that is just saying that you don’t really know who I am if I am being compared.”

Thus the title COMPARED TO WHAT? was born for the zine that developed out of a writing and arts workshop series Solid Ground held last fall for the older teens living with their families at Sand Point, a neighborhood of 175 households at the old Naval Station of Puget Sound in Magnuson Park.

The workshops were based in the principle that everyone’s voice should be heard. Starting with writing sessions led by Seattle storyteller and educator Kathya Alexander, they continued with photography and design sessions led by Solid Ground staff. Through it all, young people found their voices. “Their growth was beautiful to see,” says Christina Shimizu, Annual Giving Officer at Solid Ground and one of the staff supporters of this youth-driven project.

Creative prompts helped unleash the power of the pen

Starting out with writing prompts and progressing to original poems helped the participants feel comfortable, not only with writing, but also with one another. Within this supportive group setting, the youth quickly gained confidence and began to share their personal experiences – an important outlet for previously homeless youth who have not had many opportunities to express themselves creatively.

One of the teens comments about the project, “This is the first time we are actually getting heard, with a different point of view. Our point of view. We think differently from the way adults think. We can also teach adults how we think, because our generation is so different than your guys’ generation. I feel like we know so much more.”

I am a rare solar eclipse
Gray and overlooked
A tough cactus
Midnight, calm and relaxing
I am needed like air
A glistening diamond
The illusion that the sky is blue”

Teen photographer After a few writing sessions, Sand Point Case Manager and experienced photographer, Bellen Drake, led a photography workshop focused on visual aspects of the storytelling process. She spent a day with the youth taking photos and teaching them to use their cameras to capture the essence of their experiences, which for most is shaped by poverty-induced instability. Although most of the poets moved into long-term housing years ago and no longer identify as being homeless, Bellen notes that “it was a valuable opportunity to reflect on a time that impacted them as children, and they have now grown out of. It was a time in their past; homelessness is not their current situation.”

There were multiple leaders within the group and it was an entirely collaborative effort to put the zine together and publish it in January. The poems and images bring to mind the vividness of young romance and deep angst, mixed with materialistic egos and happy innocence. The young artists reveal their dreams and aspirations of growing up, as well as their multidimensional approach to discovering the answers to “What is Justice?”

COMPARED TO WHAT? showcases this unique community and amplifies voices that too often go unheard.

Our published writers & artists are: Ayanle Abdikadir (Abdi), Mohamed Abdikadir, Nya Rambang, Marie, Sahvannah Glenn, Maar Rambang, Heaven, Ryahnna, Geo, Chris Gainey, Ben Dessalegne, Jen Matapula, Andrea R, Deiosha Sparks.

To get your copy of Compared to What? or learn more about how you can support the youth at Sand Point Housing, contact Christina Shimizu at christinas@solid-ground.org.

Walsh Construction: Building communities with Solid Ground for two decades

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Walsh Construction not only understands the needs of the people and organizations they serve, but also anticipates and facilitates meeting those needs with professional expertise. For over 22 years, Walsh has supported Solid Ground’s work in a variety of meaningful ways.

Workplace giving

Giving back to the community is an integral part of Walsh Construction’s culture and values. As a company and as individuals, they contribute time, talent and finances to numerous nonprofits throughout the year and believe it’s the right thing to do.

Walsh Construction’s connection with Solid Ground began through the generosity of their own employees. From 1992 to 2001, Walsh employees contributed individual donations, despite the fact that there was no formal infrastructure for workplace giving. For the following several years, the United Way of King County’s workplace giving campaign coordinated the business’ donations. Then in 2005, Walsh began their own campaign to formally support all employee payroll contributions, a practice they continue to this day.

Every year through their employee Community Giving program, they name several community agencies and nonprofit groups – including Solid Ground – as beneficiaries. Walsh matches every dollar each employee contributes, and for several years they have reached 100% staff participation. Walsh employees clearly share the company’s values of generosity and care for the Seattle community.

Housing development

In 1998, Solid Ground (then the Fremont Public Association) hired Walsh to build our current headquarters offices in Wallingford. Then through an open bidding process in 2012, we selected Walsh to develop additional housing on our Sand Point Housing campus. From late 2013 through November of 2014, they served as general contractor for two buildings of non-time-limited housing at Sand Point. Today, Sand Point’s residential facilities total 175 units, 100 for families and 75 for singles. Of those, Walsh built 54 new residences and renovated an additional 42 units.

Throughout the process, Humberto Alvarez, Solid Ground’s Planning, Development & Operations Director, was primary contact between stakeholders, and he also oversaw Walsh’s two-phase renovation of the Santos Place transitional housing facility. Humberto says that Santos Place was occupied during the extensive restoration period, and that Walsh representatives were exceptionally respectful to the building owners and inhabitants as they conducted their detail-oriented work.

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Two buildings at Sand Point were located in a Seattle Landmarks Board Historic District inside Magnuson Park, which was a Navy base before becoming a park. The buildings, while new construction, had to blend in with the historic neighborhood and meet the standards of the Landmarks Preservation Board to complement the original military housing style.

Walsh’s excellent work maintained the historic look of the buildings and strengthened the integrity of the structures as well. Throughout each step of the process, contractors, developers and architects met in weekly meetings to cover every detail of the project from beginning to end. By making the infrastructure more energy efficient, money saved on utility expenses could be put instead toward providing services for residents in need.

Both new buildings at Sand Point Housing were completed ahead of schedule in early December 2013 – enabling some residents to move in before Christmas! It was especially rewarding for everyone involved to give people transitioning out of homelessness a safe, warm, dry place to live in time for the holidays that year.

Event sponsorship

Walsh has also supported Solid Ground through various annual and special events over the years, including our Building Community Luncheon, which Walsh has sponsored every year since 2011.

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place (Image courtesy of William Wright Photography)

Recently, Walsh added a personal touch to their support of Sand Point Housing residents through gifts for the children. They donated intricate wooden toys for kids to play with at the communal children’s areas in Santos Place and the Lowry Community Building. The delightful trinkets are made of durable materials that will be enjoyed by many youngsters for a long time to come.

Over the last two decades, Walsh has been a consistent, outstanding and professional supporter, and we look forward to many more years of partnership in the future!

Sand Point housing dedication

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney Place

I didn’t hammer in a single nail to help build Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing Campus, which sits on the edge of Magnuson Park on land that was once Naval Station Puget Sound. I did not help any of the 175 formerly homeless households move in, nor do I provide services or resources to support the residents of this new community and help them use it as a stepping stone to reach their dreams.

But for more than 20 years, I have been one of a small handful of people who have been fortunate to play an ongoing role in turning this once contentious idea into one of the greatest swords-into-ploughshares projects in our nation.

Not long after the Base Closure Act of 1990, I was named an alternate representative of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness to the Sand Point Liaison Committee formed by the City of Seattle to process community input about how the base should be repurposed. My job was to support our main representative, then Fremont Public Association Executive Director Frank Chopp, in using the McKinney-Vento Act to secure a portion of the base for services for homeless folks. At the time, I worked for The Sharehouse, a furniture bank helping homeless people resettle; we hoped to get a portion of one of the hangars for our warehouse.

(l to r) Dan & Cindy Brettler, Gordon McHenry, Jr., Keith Sterling, Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney & Frank Chopp dedicate the Sand Point Housing Campus

(l to r) Dan & Cindy Brettler, Gordon McHenry, Jr., Keith Sterling, Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney & Frank Chopp dedicate the Sand Point Housing Campus

When the City of Seattle’s Preferred Reuse Plan for the Naval base was approved by City Council and accepted by the Navy, it included a campus of 200 homes for formerly homeless people. The facility was to be operated by a new nonprofit organization called the Sand Point Community Housing Association (SPCHA), which would be governed by the agencies who hoped to operate housing at Sand Point. As I represented one of the few organizations in the coalition that was not competing to operate housing, I was drafted to serve as SPCHA’s first Board Chair.

The initial years of SPCHA were hectic, but by 1999, under the leadership of the nonprofit housing developer, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), the SPCHA opened 26 units of family transitional housing; 42 for single adults and three group homes for street-involved youth. A team of nonprofits provided case management and other services. Since 1999, more than 2,500 people have stayed at Sand Point on their journey from homelessness to stability.

Frank Chopp, Solid Ground Senior Advisor and Speaker of the WA State House

Frank Chopp, Solid Ground Senior Advisor & Speaker of the WA State House

The SPCHA model proved ineffective and in 2007, at the request of the City of Seattle, Solid Ground assumed control of the campus and took on the responsibility of developing 100 new homes. By then I had moved from The Sharehouse to Solid Ground. (Fremont Public Association changed its name to Solid Ground in 2007.) Working in the Development and Communications departments, I had the opportunity to support outreach and fundraising campaigns for the project.

One of my great joys over the past few years has been working with residents of Sand Point to support them in telling their stories. We have featured their successes in agency videos and newsletters, and have given them a platform to share or perform at our annual luncheon and other events.

Last week, these 20 years came together in a glorious afternoon as 300+ people gathered to dedicate the end of planned construction at Sand Point. We honored major contributors to the project and formally named one of the new buildings for former Washington State House of Representatives member Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, whose leadership in the legislature and legacy of community service has made a major impact on housing issues in Washington State.

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney

Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney

More than 450 people now live in this new neighborhood, more than half of them children and youth. The stunning park offers respite and a connection to nature for people working to regain solid ground, and it is a great place to be a kid!

Keith Sterling was one of the first dads to move into the family apartments in Brettler Family Place. He told me he loves to take his 5- and 7-year-old children to the park, and marvels at watching them learn about the natural world around them.

What I marvel at is that more than 20 years ago, we had a dream for turning this run-down military base into some of the finest low-income housing in the country, and with the help of hundreds of people and committed organizations, we were able to make it happen.

Keith Sterling

Keith Sterling

Frank Chopp, Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, Solid Ground CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. and major donor Dan Brettler all addressed the audience at the dedication last week, but it was only when Keith Sterling spoke that the sun shone down on us. “This is more than a place to live,” he said. “This is a place to thrive.”

Photos by John Bolivar Photography

Kids’ programs spark interests and create bonds

4-H Puppy Power

Puppy Power encourages reading on the Sand Point Campus

For families who have experienced homelessness, finding the time and money to participate in afterschool programs can be challenging. However, these activities and programs play an important role in building a foundation for growth and healing after families enter permanent or transitional housing.

With this in mind, staff at Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing have been busy building relationships with community program providers to make sure that the children have opportunities to learn and enjoy their childhoods.

Joanna Tarr, a Children’s Case Manager at the Sand Point Campus, is grateful for the wealth of events and activities community partners and local programs provide. “Brettler Family Place has a small staff,” Joanna says, “so outside programs are very important.” Once all the construction is complete, Sand Point Housing and Brettler Family Place is estimated to house up to 250 children. Community partners’ and volunteers’ continued support is greatly appreciated and necessary to ensure the kids receive the best opportunities.

“Offering a variety of activities,” explains Joanna, “ensures the kids have the opportunity to find what they want to do in their lives, gives them a lot of interests, keeps them busy and active, and creates opportunities and positive experiences they might not have otherwise.”

The activities and programs vary wildly. Some kids have dirtied their hands refurbishing old bikes (a program at the Cascade Bike Club) and building remote control cars, while others play sports, learn to cook nutritious meals (Cooking Matters and Apple Corps), or create works of art (curriculum provided by A Window Between Worlds as a means to use creative expression to overcome trauma). As Joanna states, “You never know what’s going to catch a kid,” and so the more exposure to different arts and occupations, the more possibilities each child has to find a passion, deal with stress, and learn skills for the future.

There are plenty of ways for the children to study. Kumon, a learning center in University Village, provides free program admission for the Sand Point children who are able to make it out to their location. Local high school students and adult tutors also volunteer their time four times a week to tutor the kids and help with homework. Science and engineering events and exhibits, provided by the Museum of Flight and Pacific Science Center, have also been held onsite.

Perhaps the most adorable educational program at The Sand Point Campus is offered by Puppy Power, a 4-H group that trains service pets. Once a month, kids and canines convene for an hour-long reading session. The relaxed atmosphere and open puppy ears encourage reading and help the children keep up with school reading assignments.

Building life skills and teaching cooperation is also a focus. The Girl Scouts have been an integral part of learning and fun in the community. Two times a week, the Girl Scouts nurture confidence and responsibility through leadership training, cooperation activities with the troop, community service projects and, of course, the peddling of their scrumptious cookies. In acknowledgement of their hard work and progress, the girls of Brettler have performed the flag-raising ceremony at a Mariners game and at the Girl Scouts’ annual luncheon.

The Mountaineers have been active with Sand Point kids as well – crafting a new generation of fit and rugged Pacific Northwest outdoorspeople. With the help of University of Washington volunteers, the Mountaineers open their facility and offer their expertise to teach the kids rock climbing, survival, first aid and navigation – all of which culminates in a final ‘survivor’ event.

In addition to keeping minds sharp, the programs keep bodies busy. The recently finished Tennis Center Sand Point contributes tennis instructions for kids during half-day and no-school days, and even offers exemplary students scholarships for regular classes. Soccer and football are staple activities for many of the kids, and the kids have even canoed and kayaked on Lake Washington. The local YMCA also opens their facilities to the kids at much appreciated discounts, and the City of Seattle Magnuson Community Center holds events and activities at Brettler throughout the year including hiring and training teens to work as counselors at the summer camps. This amazing program provides teens with jobs skills and experience, and gives the younger children a productive way to spend the summer.  

While it’s never certain which activity might ignite a passion or spark a future career, we are certain of the influence these activities can have on the kids. The success rate at Brettler is high, according to Joanna. “There’s a great sense of community. There’s a Brettler clique. The kids have bonded to each other and support each other.” While she admits a large part of the supportive relationship comes from the stability permanent housing affords, Joanna, who has been at Brettler practically since it opened, concedes she’s seen a change. “The kids get to know each other in different ways than if they were just neighbors. When they participate in all these activities they get to know each other on a deeper level – doing activities like rock climbing where they have to support each other.”

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We are looking for great volunteers to support our children’s programming at Sand Point! If you’re interested in getting involved or would like more information, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@solid-ground.org or at 206.694.6825.

Seattle employs financial empowerment to help families thrive

Financial Fitness Boot Camp's Coach Judy

Financial Fitness Boot Camp’s Coach Judy

Seattle will be the first city on the West Coast to open no-cost Financial Empowerment Centers. Solid Ground will partner with Neighborhood House to provide a satellite center, likely at Sand Point Housing at Magnuson Park, in order to offer easy access to financial counseling for families and individuals in our transitional and permanent housing programs. 

One-on-one counseling will help people reduce debt, build credit, guard against predatory lending practices, understand foreclosure, and protect against fraud. Asset development coaching and budgeting will lower monthly costs, increase income, buffer against sudden crises, and prepare people for retirement.

Seattle’s program is modeled after the first financial empowerment pilot, launched in 2008 by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The original pilot, according to the foundation, has helped over 19,000 families reduce their debt by more than $9 million.

Six Financial Empowerment Centers will open in 2014, with the main full-time site stationed at Neighborhood House in Rainier Vista. Each center will be positioned close to or within social service facilities that can offer additional resources for those living on low-incomes. Additional offices will be located at NewHolly, the Jim Wiley Community Center, YWCA Opportunity Place and North Seattle Community College.

Paul G. Allen Family Foundation provided a three year grant for the project, and is partnering with City of Seattle, Neighborhood House and United Way.

Breaking the cycle of poverty involves more than just helping people living on low-incomes make ends meet. At Solid Ground, we want people to be healthy, happy and build the skills they need to thrive.

In the coming year, we will implement our own plan to integrate financial empowerment into social service delivery at Solid Ground, developed during a six-month financial empowerment Learning Cluster hosted by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). And with the support from CFED through an 18-month Learning Cluster that began this month, our plan will provide the education and tools people living on low and moderate incomes need to move beyond just surviving to a place of stability, self-sufficiency and financial health.

Housing shapes up at Magnuson Park

Sand Point Housing construction continues apace at Magnuson Park. Solid Ground is adding permanent supportive housing for previously homeless families, single men and women. We hope to have the two new buildings complete late this year and leased up soon thereafter.

Framing of Building 5 along Sand Point Way.

Framing of Building 5 along Sand Point Way.

Building 4, nestled in the courtyard of Brettler Family Place.

Building 4, nestled in the courtyard of Brettler Family Place.

Building 5 takes shape south of the long barracks building on Sand Point Way.

Building 5 takes shape south of the long barracks building on Sand Point Way.

Building 5 from the balcony of the Lowry Community Center.

Building 5 from the balcony of the Lowry Community Center.

Once completed, the new facilities will bring to 200 the total number of homes at Sand Point for formerly homeless people!

New construction begun at Sand Point Housing

Earlier this month, Solid Ground broke ground on two new sites on our Sand Point Housing campus to begin building 54 new homes for formerly homeless people.

This building will hold 33 homes for single adults and six homes for families.

This building will hold 33 homes for single adults and six homes for families.

The 21 new homes for families and 33 for single adults fulfill the City’s vision of supportive housing for people overcoming homelessness at the former Sand Point Naval Station, which was articulated in the 1997 Reuse Plan.

“Since the initial transitional housing was redeveloped in old Navy buildings and opened in 2000, more than 2,000 people have used the facility as a stepping stone on their journey back to stability and thriving,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground’s President & CEO. “The program’s ongoing success is based on partnerships among service providers and deep, supportive connections in the local community.”

Future home for 15 formerly homeless families

Future home for 15 formerly homeless families

Site map showing locations of the new buildings

Site map showing locations of the new buildings

View from the south at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the south at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the north at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

View from the north at the site where six family homes and 33 for singles will be constructed

Aerial view looking from the top of Brettler Family Place at the site where 15 family homes will be built

Aerial view looking from the top of Brettler Family Place at the site where 15 family homes will be built

View from the north where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the north where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the east where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

View from the east where 15 family homes will nestle into this wing of Brettler Family Place

Construction banners along Sand Point Way NE

Construction banners along Sand Point Way NE

Adrienne Karls, a resident of Solid Ground’s Santos Place transitional housing on the Magnuson Park campus, said, “We’ve come from being on the street or in our car. We’ve come from homeless shelters. We’ve all come from being in despair. This place has been somewhere I have been able to grow and appreciate things that I haven’t before in life. This community has given me tools and skills to build my future on. I’m confident it will do the same for the people who will move into these new buildings as well.”

Major funding for the project comes from Enterprise Community Partners, The City of Seattle and the Brettler Family Foundation. The project should be completed by late 2013!

Where I am from ~Adrienne

Editor’s note: Adrienne Karls is a resident at Solid Ground’s Santos Place, transitional housing for formerly homeless single adults at Magnuson Park. She is a member of the Santos Place Residents Council and Solid Ground’s Advisory Council. Earlier this year she began editing QNotes, a newsletter written and published by Santos Place residents. This piece, entitled “Where I am from,” is taken from a recent issue with permission.

Photo by Adrienne Karls

I am from my mother’s womb, my giver of life, from an infinite bond of love made one very special night.

I am from the deepest place in my soul where my life experiences live. From my loves, my loss to my knowledge and every step walked within.

I am from every breath I take as I walk the beach by the ocean. This is where I find serenity letting flow every one of my emotions. Here my spirit runs free while my heart becomes replenished, where my mind can let go of all that was while creating something new and un-blemished.

I am from love and war, passion and pain, terrible memories of secrets kept and wonderful times that I will never forget.  Never mind what it is if it matters too much then let go of the hurt and hold on to the trust. A bond that’s never broken and a truth that’s never lost.

God and trusting him is my faith. I’ve learned it pays to always treat others as well as I’d like to be treated myself. Through God I’ve learned forgiveness so I can free my heart of anger, moving on to what’s next in this life full of wonder.

From the most passionate of love to the ugliest of resentments, I’m from becoming  renewed while learning from what life has to offer.

Despite the many tears I’ve cried I’ve smiled a million smiles more, for my experiences have made me stronger in everything I do. Every battle has made me wiser and every joy has given me life.

I am from STRENGTH.

Photo by Adrienne Karls

On Solid Ground at Sand Point Capital Campaign complete!

This update was contributed by Joan Caine, Capital Campaign Consultant. Scroll down for a slideshow of photos by Arthur Shwab featuring four of the first families to live at Brettler Family Place.

Andrew & his dad Hugo play together on the jungle gym

Andrew & Hugo play together on the jungle gym

The On Solid Ground at Sand Point Capital Campaign reached its fundraising goal in February 2012, marking a new beginning for families and formerly homeless individuals, including veterans. The first 51 families moved in during the spring of 2011, and there is already an active community taking shape. Phase II construction begins in September 2012, and by the fall of 2013, Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing will be home to over 100 adults and nearly 200 children.

Sand Point Housing represents a bold new way to utilize defunct military bases for the public good. It speaks to all that is best about our community commitment to end homelessness.

Capital campaigns call upon vision, rigorous planning, and the investment of a wide range of public and private donors. Despite the campaign having launched less than one year before the dramatic economic recession, the community rallied behind the project and ensured its success. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our campaign donors.

As we look to the future, we know that housing is just the beginning at Sand Point. Our wraparound services are growing to meet the needs of the families and individuals who are now residents. As we address immediate needs through programs that build financial skills, teach cooking and nutrition, connect families to mental health and employment services, and offer a full complement of children’s programs, we know that the long-term goal is to ensure that each resident moves to a place of thriving and stability.

Our intention is to end cycles of generational poverty through the comprehensive approach at Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Housing.

We believe in the future of our residents and the successful completion of the capital campaign is the community’s vote of confidence that better days are ahead for all of the men, women and children who will call Sand Point their home.

In December 2011, photographer Arthur Shwab photographed several families in and around their new homes at Brettler Family Place:

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http://www.arthurshwab.com/ ~ www.arthurshwab.com/blog

 

Help save Magnuson Community Center!

Kids at summer nature programs (from Seattle.gov website)

While you can probably hear a half a dozen languages bubbling up during workshops at the Magnuson Community Center, what rises above them all is the laughter of neighborhood kids and youth having a great time.

Just down the street from Solid Ground’s Brettler Family Place and Sand Point Family Housing, the Center is a vital part of what brings stability and safety to this community.

But unfortunately, according to Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee Co-Chairs Cindy Hazard and Emily Bishton, the City of Seattle’s 2012 budget process has given the Magnuson Community Center a “2b” rating, which will result in “a drastic cutback of Magnuson Community Center’s open hours and staff time, and will make it impossible for it to offer the kind of great programs and special events that we have all come to love.”

The Center has played an important role in the lives of the families living in Solid Ground’s transitional and permanent housing at Sand Point. Currently almost 200 kids live there, and another 40 or so are expected when new units are built next year.

“The Community Center plays a vital role in helping our families break away from the cycle of homelessness. Kids spending time there are supervised, active and learning about social interactions — they are also meeting other kids from the surrounding neighborhood, and vice versa, which helps them recover from any problems being homeless has caused,” said Tamara Brown, Solid Ground’s Deputy Housing Director.

“It’s so important that we give these kids the same chance that our own kids have had — to participate in team sports, to have fun, to be safe — intervening now can prevent a repeat of cycling back into homelessness like their parents.”

Summer activities like the Center’s Rock the Park “truly helped to change the lives of the kids who attended,” said Joanna Tarr, Children’s Case Manager at Brettler Family Place. “It gave them a feeling of belonging to and pride in the park where they live, and something positive to do with their time. The camp gave them the opportunity to experience many different activities … they were able to bond with each other, form positive relationships, and have the staff as wonderful role models. The kids so looked forward to the camp and often told me how much they enjoyed it and the staff.”

Unless the Center’s rating is restored to at least “2a,” these transformational programs will be cut.

But it is not too late.

You can email or call the City Council Parks Chair Sally Bagshaw at sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov or 206.684.8801, and the Mayor’s office at Mike.Mcginn@seattle.gov or  206.684.4000, to tell them how you feel about Magnuson Community Center. Tell them which of their special events and programs you personally have been touched by. And ask them to restore Magnuson Community Center to at least a “2a” rating to help strengthen our community!

Additional housing coming to Magnuson Park

The Solid Ground Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to move forward with the final phase of housing construction at Magnuson Park/Sand Point. Fifty-four new units are planned. This will bring the total number of housing units for formerly homeless people at the former Navy Base to the 200 outlined in the City of Seattle’s Reuse Plan.

Site plan for Sand Point

We will begin pre-development activities and submit funding applications to the City of Seattle, King County and State of Washington, as well as an application for federal tax-credits. If all goes as planned, we hope to break ground in February 2012 and complete construction in late 2012.

This part of the project will be constructed on two sites, one building which dovetails with the Brettler Family Place footprint and another across the street from Santos Place. The 54 permanent housing units will be for families and singles.

Solid Ground will continue working with the developer, Common Ground, and architect firm, Tonkin Hoyne, who partnered with us on Brettler Family Place.

Brettler Family Place: The finished product!

We’ve recently celebrated the Grand Opening of Brettler Family Place and shared with you photos of the event. But we realized that those shots were primarily of speakers and guests, so we wanted to give you a better view of what the completed Brettler Family Place looks like. The following slideshow gives you the goods. Also, we have been documenting the past year of construction. Can you tell that we are proud of this development?

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While Brettler Family Place ends homelessness for 51 families, we are not quite done with our housing development at Magnuson Park. Stage 2 of this project will include 20 additional housing units for families, as well as 34 units for single men and women, including veterans, seniors and people living with disabilities.

The overall cost of the entire project is in the neighborhood of $30 million. Thanks to many generous people and institutions in our community, we are very close to completing our fundraising. In fact, we have only $515,000 in private funding left to raise! If you would like more information on the project, contact Ali Friedman: alif@solid-ground.org.

Brettler Family Place opening bash!

More than 150 people joined us at the Grand Opening for Brettler Family Place Thursday night! Thanks to Mayor Mike McGinn, Speaker Frank Chopp, Governor Mike Lowry, Dan and Cindy Brettler and others for contributing to the program. Of course, the most moving part of the evening was Joy Sparks’ speech about what living at Brettler Family Place means to her and her family. With about one month of residency, Joy is an “elder” in our new community here, and she speaks with wisdom about the journey she has undertaken and the value of safe, affordable housing. Following is a transcript of Joy’s comments. Before you read, get some tissues ready…

Joy Sparks

I would like to first thank Solid Ground for even considering my journey a success story. That’s validation for me, that I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, and that me and my family are more than deserving to be new residents of this beautiful community.

My daughters and I went through several different stages of homelessness – ranging from couch surfing, sleeping in cars, hotels, shelters and transitional housing. I think one of the reasons I was able to move forward and overcome my biggest barrier, which was homelessness, is because of the overwhelming support that I received from Solid Ground and all the other staff and organizations that embraced me during my time of need!

My caseworker Katie Showalter especially played a big part in keeping me grounded. She found out what my needs were on all levels! She was always there using her words to uplift me and motivate me!

She’d say to me, “Joy you are artistic and beautiful, smart and resilient.” She’d use all these powerful words describing characteristics that she’d seen in me that I hadn’t even seen in myself! Katie doesn’t know this, but whenever our meetings were over, I’d always pull out my dictionary and search for the definition to her words of choice, and I’d always feel so awakened and uplifted by their meaning!

There’s a quote that says, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” And Katie has demonstrated just that with her words of comfort and encouragement. She was always there with her mirror telling me to look at myself and love the person I see, and that I am worthy.

I’m not sure if you all are fans of Deepak Chopra, but I’d like to share something he wrote about toxic relationships. He talks about the three kinds of people in your life: Those who leave you alone, those who help you, and those who hurt you.

People who leave you alone are dealing with your suffering as a nuisance or inconvenience; they prefer to keep their distance in order to feel better themselves.

Those who hurt you want your situation to be the same because they do not have your wellbeing at heart.

Those who help you have the strength and awareness to do more with your suffering than you are able to do by yourself. He also says having made a realistic count, take the following attitude:

  1. I will no longer bring my problems to anyone who wants to leave me alone. It’s not good for them or me.
  2. I will put a distance between myself and those who want to hurt me.
  3. I will share my problems with those who want to help me. I will not reject genuine offers of assistance out of pride, insecurity or doubt. I will ask people to join me in my healing and make them a bigger part of my life.

Whenever I read this I feel so thankful for the people who’ve played a role in my life and who’ve found ways to help me overcome and move forward.

Creating my vision board was another thing that kept me focused. I made my vision board 1/29/2010; we had only been homeless three weeks. But the very first thing that you’re able to see on my vision board is a magazine clipping that reads “Homeless to Happiness.” That remained my vision and my # 1 goal.

On March 7, 2011 my vision became reality. I went from being homeless to being stable, and secure, which to me is happiness!

Brettler Place to me, means happiness. The beautiful scenery, the view of park, even the green grass and access to the beach have meaning to me. It means family and togetherness! The energy here feels good. There’s a peace of mind here!

I have peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to pack my bags in a few months and I don’t have to transfer my kids to another school again. I don’t have to sleep in a car again or call to put my name on a waiting list for shelter. I don’t have to expose my children to unhealthy living anymore!!!

One more quote before I go: “Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” I have that now and it’s all thanks to you, the Brettler Family, Solid Ground, Mercy Housing, Katie Sholwalter and all of you!!! Thank you so very much!!!

Here are additional images from the event:

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While Brettler Family Place ends homelessness for 51 families, we are not quite done with our housing development at Magnuson Park. Stage 2 of this project will include 20 additional housing units for families, as well as 34 units for single men and women, including veterans, seniors and people living with disabilities.

The overall cost of the entire project is in the neighborhood of $30 million. Thanks to many generous people and institutions in our community, we are very close to completing our fundraising. In fact, we have just $515,000 in private funding left to raise! If Joy’s speech moves you to help us close the gap, or if you would like more information on the project, contact Ali Friedman: alif@solid-ground.org.

First tenants move in at Brettler Family Place

If you listened carefully this morning, you could hear the soft padding of young feet in jammies in the hallways at Brettler Family Place. Tea kettles whistled and warm voices called “wake up,” where once the drone of air compressors and the pop of impact drivers filled the soundscape.

Kelly, our first resident!

For the past year, the sounds and sights of construction have dominated this little hillside on the western edge of Magnuson Park. Now, homemaking has taken over. Because yesterday, the first dozen families moved from shelter and transitional housing facilities across the region into their new, permanent, affordable homes at Brettler Family Place.

“This is the beginning of something great for me,” said Joyce, who called her car ‘home’ not too long ago. She was all smiles as she approached her apartment for the first time, its third floor views extending across Magnuson Park to Lake Washington and the Cascade mountains.

Monday afternoon, six new families received their orientation by staff at Solid Ground, who developed the 52-unit Brettler Family Place, and Mercy Housing, who are managing the property. They went over ground rules and guidelines for making this new community a safe, welcoming, environmentally-friendly one. For some, it was the first permanent housing they have ever had; for others, the first in a long time.

Orientation with staff of Solid Ground and Mercy Housing

The first 12 families got their keys on March 7. Within a few weeks, 51 units will be filled with formerly homeless families. In the context of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, this represents significant progress: Within a few weeks, homelessness will be over for these 51 families. The supportive services on site will help ensure that they maintain their new position on solid ground.

And all around King County, as these families exit the facilities they have been living in, other families anticipate moving into now-vacant slots at transitional housing programs. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of candidates for those programs.

Throughout the spring, the landscaping at Brettler Family Place will take root – and the yard, which still reminds you of a construction zone, will fill in. The Lowry Community Center will open to host casual get-togethers and formal events. Kids will ride their bikes in the park. And life will start to settle down from the crisis-driven cycle of homelessness to something more even-keeled. From beautiful buildings will come a vibrant community.

Landscapers still working at Brettler Family Place

The process of transforming a formal military airfield, one of the nation’s foremost “swords in ploughshares” conversions, will come a step closer to fulfilling its promise of 200 housing units for formerly homeless folks. Sometime in the next year, Solid Ground hopes to launch the final phase of the development, constructing additional family units as well as housing for veterans and other singles.

When the Naval Station Puget Sound was first listed for base closure in the mid-1990s, there was a tremendous outpouring of ideas about how to best use the remarkable facilities and setting. Throughout a multi-year, city-wide planning process, the Sand Point Liaison Committee – under the leadership of former City Council member Jeannette Williams – helped the city craft a plan that incorporated recreational, cultural, educational and other uses. The notion of housing formerly homeless people on the site was proposed early on in the planning process. While there was some trepidation at first, it was soon roundly accepted by the Committee, which represented most of the community clubs and neighborhood organizations in the NE part of the city, as well as other park stakeholders.

Living in transitional housing is not the best time to collect lots of stuff

I had the privilege of serving as the alternate representative for the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness to the Liaison Committee. In that role I saw how initial fears about locating housing for formerly homeless people in the park transformed into concerns about how we could work together to build the best possible community for these people. Since Spring 2000, when families and singles first moved in to repurposed Navy buildings, neighbors from the surrounding community have invested their time, talent and love in making the Sand Point Community Housing program successful. Individuals and groups from “up the hill” continue to help shape and support this growing community.

But for the families who moved in yesterday, that is all just old business. For parents like Justine, their sights are set on the future.

While Justine thinks about a better future, Analiyah thinks about a nap.

Justine is a 20-year-old single mom, who, along with her young daughter Analiyah, moved into her first real home yesterday. “I’ve never had my own permanent housing before,” Justine said. Kicked out of her family as a teen, she’s had a handful of challenging years. But now, Brettler Family Place is giving her the stability to pursue a nursing career. She’s almost finished with her prerequisites at a local community college. Her sense of hope, and that of her new neighbors, is as powerful as the promise of spring. And like the blooms that will soon overtake the park, new life is shooting up at Brettler Family Place.

Townhomes, views to Lake Washington

Skins, interiors & Community Center at Sand Point

All of the buildings on our Sand Point campus are now framed in, including the Community Center. Brick and siding is progressing on the 52 units of affordable housing for formerly homeless families, while interiors are making great progress as well. Some of the townhomes have cabinets installed and are feeling nearly finished! The apartments are still getting wired, insulated and buttoned up with wallboard. It is a real hive of activity, with completion date about four months away! Enjoy the photos…  And if you want to support the project, go to our website and click on the orange donate button! Thanks!

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Composite view of apartments from the west

A great place to live for people who need a home!

This Saturday is the Open House at our new housing development at Magnuson Park – Sand Point. This video explains more about the project, which initially will include Brettler Family Place, 52 apartments and townhomes for formerly homeless families, as well as a Community Center.

MORE INFORMATION:

Brick and siding work begin on Brettler Family Place

Framing is almost complete on the housing units Solid Ground is building at Magnuson Park/Sand Point. As this photo essay shows, the exterior brick and siding is just starting to go on. In the middle of the site, the Community Center is starting to take shape; its walls ought to be raised next week. Here are the latest images from Brettler Family Place:

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Poppy with housing in background

Hope

Brettler Family Place framing almost complete

Here are the latest photos of the new housing Solid Ground is developing at Magnuson Park for formerly homeless families. The townhomes and apartments are almost completely framed in. The Community Center will shape up soon.

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Composite of northern units

Rooms with a view at Brettler Family Place

Marpac Construction is rapidly framing up Solid Ground’s 52 new townhouses and apartments for formerly homeless families at Magnuson Park/Sand Point. The following slideshow includes the first ever images from inside the project, giving a more intimate view of the construction and a taste of the views residents will enjoy when they start moving in next summer. If you want to learn more or give your support to the project, please go to our website.

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Flowering future

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