Enterprise Community Partners Launches Home & Hope to Promote Connections between Affordable Housing and Early Education Centers in King County

Program receives three-year, $1.65 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance development on underutilized, tax-exempt sites

SEATTLE – Aug. 31, 2017 – ­In a region where stories about escalating housing costs and homelessness dominate the headlines, a heated real estate market brings another burden to low-income and working families – a shortage of early learning and childcare centers. Based on the impact a stable home has on a child’s ability to learn and the strong linkage between high quality early learning and positive lifelong outcomes, Enterprise Community Partners launched the Home and Hope initiative to identify and secure underutilized public and tax-exempt land to address both needs. 

Home and Hope will benefit from a three-year, $1.65 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Groundwork for the initiative began in Seattle last year with the support of $490,000 from the Seattle City Council. The Gates Foundation grant will accelerate the work to identify and develop affordable housing and facility space for educational programs throughout King County.

“Our region’s strong economy is a blessing, but population growth is having a head-on collision with the depleted housing supply and shortage of development sites,” noted M.A. Leonard, vice president and Pacific Northwest market leader, Enterprise. “Both low-income families and early learning programs in neighborhoods close to jobs and other opportunities are being displaced at an alarming rate.”

During the five-year program, Enterprise will identify and catalyze development on sites that add an estimated 1,500 units of housing and five to six early learning centers in King County.  Home and Hope will create a model for the financing and development of ground-floor space that supports residents and their community, with a primary focus on education and early learning facilities. The initiative will also support the creation of a fund which will accelerate production and include a special focus on creating educational spaces within mixed-use housing developments.

To facilitate better cross-sector relationships to serve low- and moderate-income residents, Enterprise recently brought together more than 70 developers, early childhood educators, architects, philanthropic organizations, elected officials and public stakeholders to identify barriers and to explore innovations in systems change that advance the creation of affordable housing connected to education centers.

Over the next few months, working groups will explore a range of topics, including design and licensure requirements, childcare subsidies for low-income families, unique financial models to develop educational spaces and connecting affordable housing developers to childcare operators.

During the Home and Hope convening, King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci spoke about the urgency in responding to the need. “We feel the demand of growth. Housing is increasingly out of reach,” Balducci said. “Affordable housing should be available throughout the county, with a focus on locations near Sound Transit stations.”

Long-time early childhood education proponent and Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess emphasized the importance of connecting learning centers to affordable housing. “Forty percent of children from low-income families are not ready to enter kindergarten. High quality preschool can change the life course of children forever.”