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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 28, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 17
Ed Murray and Paul Allen announce $35 million deal to support homeless families
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Ed Murray and Paul Allen announce $35 million deal to support homeless families

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and billionaire Paul Allen have announced a new initiative to help homeless families.

According to their April 26 press release, Murray and Allen envision 'an innovative, permanent supportive housing and on-site services community that will serve as a resource hub for Seattle-area families with children who are experiencing homelessness.'

Allen will put $30 million into the project, with the City of Seattle kicking in an additional $5 million in capital plus funding for operation and maintenance.

'Paul Allen understands the homelessness crisis requires everyone in our community, particularly our business leaders, to help,' Murray said in a statement.

'This partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will build permanent supportive housing for vulnerable homeless families with children and help the City leverage our affordable housing funds 6-to-1. This commitment is an example of the incredible difference our philanthropic and business leaders can make in our community, as I called on others to do during my State of the City speech this year. Thank you to Paul Allen, his family, and the foundation for making this incredibly generous investment to address this crisis.'

A nonprofit corporation, Mercy Housing Northwest, will develop, own, and operate the multifamily complex. Other nonprofits are expected to participate also, providing services and support for children and families in the community.

Mercy Housing Northwest is one of the nation's largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing. The group reportedly operates 48 properties in Washington state, including a 108-unit affordable housing project in Rainier Valley.

'This remarkable partnership between Paul Allen and the City of Seattle will make lasting opportunities for families most in need,' said Bill Rumpf, president of Mercy Housing Northwest.

'We are grateful for the opportunity to create affordable apartments and a family service center where parents and children can get out of homelessness, regain resilience and dignity, and pursue economic mobility.'

A location for the project has not been determined.

'Our vision right now is that it's in a location where there is access to services and public transit,' said Paul Butler, who oversees homelessness programs for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

According to Bill Hilf, CEO of Allen's real estate and development company, Vulcan Inc., the company initiated the project several months ago.

'We should all be alarmed by the growing crisis of homelessness in our community, especially its impact on families,' Hilf said.

'Addressing this crisis requires the commitment and creativity of business, government, and the human services community. We approached the City of Seattle some months ago to get this project going because we wanted to make a significant impact toward disrupting the cycle of homelessness, and to give homeless families an opportunity to thrive.'

Vulcan has been controversial in local housing circles because its $5.7 billion South Lake Union development displaced so many units of existing low-cost housing in favor of tech companies and high-end condos.

Vulcan also owns a site at 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street where planned developments will displace a locally owned Red Apple grocery and several small businesses.

Allen, who made his initial fortune as a co-founder of Microsoft and went on to buy the Seahawks, Sounders, and Portland Trailblazers, is said to be determined to give away most of his money before he dies.

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