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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Announces First Round of Housing Awards for the Sound Families Program

Foundation grants $1,735,178 to organizations in Seattle and King and Snohomish Counties

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Paul Carlson
City of Seattle, Office of Housing & Sound Families Program
Phone: 206.233.7088

SEATTLE -- These new grants are part of the $40 million Sound Families program. Devoted to assisting homeless families, the Sound Families program is helping build transitional housing and support services for homeless families in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties.

The five housing projects announced today, will provide housing for 179 households, with an emphasis on housing mothers with children and working families earning $16,000 or less a year. Descriptions of developments are attached. The following are the first round of grant recipients:

- The Low Income Housing Institute, Seattle
- Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center, Seattle
- Auburn Housing for Homeless Families, King County
- Vision House, King County
- Housing Hope, Snohomish County

The awarded organizations plan to build or renovate structures over the next few years. Funding from the Sound Families program supports a portion of the housing units in each development as transitional housing. The projects also receive funding from other sources.

"We are very pleased to announce this first round of grant recipients. Each organization is doing tremendous work in the community," said Bill Gates, Sr., Co-Chair and CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope this program will help increase the positive impact these organizations are having: helping homeless families in our communities to stay together and work towards self-sufficiency."

In July 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a $40 million grant toward helping to stabilize families in crisis. The grant established the Sound Families program, to help create transitional housing units in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties. It will also serve as a catalyst for regional cooperation on homeless-related issues. In addition to the three counties, the program's partners include: the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett and the state of Washington.

The goal of the Sound Families program is to make a significant impact on the lives of families in crisis and to help them move toward independence. The funds will be directed to transitional housing, where families may stay for approximately two years while stabilizing their situation. This is different from emergency housing or longer term affordable housing. By providing a significant increase in the amount of transitional housing available, the Sound Families program hopes to relieve much of the pent-up demand that is now overwhelming the emergency housing system. The initiative is unusual in that it provides not only funds for construction, but also funding for the coordination of supportive social services, such as childcare and job training.

Sound Families Grant Recipients
February, 2001

· Meadowbrook View, Seattle, a mixed-use building with 51 units of housing. Low Income Housing Institute will partner with Seattle Emergency Housing Services to provide support to newly-housed families. Families will benefit from food, clothing and housewares banks; daycare; after-school and summer programs; and medical and employment services, including mental health and substance abuse assistance.

· Views at Madison, Seattle, a mixed-use, new-construction project with 96 apartments. The Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center will provide the transitional housing targeted to working families. These will be formerly homeless persons who are increasing their skills through job training and employment. Views at Madison will work with the Seattle Jobs Initiative to provide job training and stable employment in 10 transitional units. The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation will provide services for families with disabilities.

· Vision House Single Mothers' Shelter, Renton, a four-plex of 5-bedroom transitional units. Each apartment is designed to accommodate three single mothers and their newborns. The site is located directly across the street from a similar Vision House facility already in operation. Vision House will provide supportive services assisted by Sound Families funding.

· New Century House, Everett, an 11-unit building, built by Housing Hope. Four of the units will be used to house eight small families. This building will be used to serve extremely low income, homeless pregnant women, new mothers and their infants. Housing Hope has developed a learning curriculum they call The College of Hope. New Century House residents will attend classes designed to strengthen their ability to work and care for their families.

· Auburn Transitional Housing for Families, Auburn, will rehabilitate a 12-unit apartment building, converting the two-bedroom units to low-income, transitional family housing. St. Stephen's Housing Association, a small faith-based service organization, has partnered with Catholic Community Services and experienced developer Common Ground for its first housing project.

The City of Seattle's Office of Housing staffs the Sound Families program, which includes a steering committee and review committee to make funding recommendations. Not-for-profit housing development organizations can apply twice a year, in fall and spring. The next funding cycle for the Sound Families Program will be Spring 2001, with applications due April 9, 2001. For further information, visit the website.

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