December 15, 2020

PNW 2020 Top 13 for an Unlucky Year

As 2020 began, we here at Enterprise Pacific Northwest had big hopes and plans for the year to be. With two new Program Directors completing our team, we were ready to take our Home & Hope initiative and our WA Early Learning Loan Fund (WELL Fund) across Washington. Not that any year ever quite goes to plan, but I am sure our team joins you in celebrating the end of the most difficult year in generations. As we prepare to put 2020 behind us, we would like to share our highlights with you. 

I would also like to publicly celebrate our PNW Market staff – Ana Bonilla, Taylor Robinson, Juanita Salinas-Aguila, and Jess Blanch – who each demonstrated amazing resilience, creativity, and determination. In the face of everything 2020 put in the way, they continued to make real differences for the community development field in our region, and as a result more of our neighbors will have safe, healthy, affordable homes that are platforms for more in their lives. Each team member helped to keep us together, to create opportunities for fun as well as opportunities for commiseration despite working remotely. Each demonstrated their ability to lead from their position, and I am incredibly thankful to have faced this year with this team. 

So, with no further ado and in no particular order, here are the Enterprise PNW’s Top 13 for an Unlucky Year


1. Celebrating M.A. Leonard’s retirement – M.A. is a living legend of community development in the Pacific Northwest. To see what generations of housing professionals had to say, check out this tribute board.


2. Our WELL Fund officially launched in March 2020 - Despite that auspicious timing, the WELL Fund partners – WCRA, Craft3, and Enterprise – closed 7 loans and awarded 14 predevelopment grants in 2020. Read about our first loan to Tacoma’s Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center and about a loan in Spokane aimed at supporting teen parents as they finish their education. The WELL Fund’s first $12M pool includes investments from the State of Washington, the Ballmer Group, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Seattle Foundation.


3. WELL Fund Emergency Covid Grants - While the WELL Fund’s mission is primarily to expand early learning facilities, the dire crisis 2020 created for early learning demanded more of us. The WELL Fund team responded with an innovative Covid-response renovation grant round to allow centers to make minor changes to restore enrollment, resulting in major differences for families who will receive care again, safely. We received 347 applications representing $51M+ and could only award 12 in a $1M+ pool. 


4. EARPS Grants – Enterprise launched its Emergency Action for Resident and Partner Stability (EARPS) program to help our non-profit affordable housing partners weather 2020. In the PNW, we are proud to have awarded over $1 million dollars to 11 organizations in WA and OR, with the support of the Ballmer Group, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and HUD. 


5. Oregon Convening – Our King County, WA based team did manage Oregon trips before the pandemic. Juanita Salinas and M.A. Leonard presented about our Home & Hope initiative and the intersections between affordable housing and early learning at the Build Early Convening in Woodburn, OR. The entire team also spent three days in Portland, OR to visit key partners and to discuss anti-racism with our Enterprise colleagues in our Portland office. Read more.


6. Home & Hope goes Statewide – Our Home & Hope initiative – aimed at accelerating the redevelopment of public- and tax-exempt sites into affordable homes and early learning centers – expanded from our Seattle-focused pilot to offer assistance statewide. Thanks to funding from the State of Washington, King County, City of Seattle, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the leadership of M.A. Leonard, and the efforts of Jess Blanch and Tony Yuchasz, we are funding and performing feasibility studies, design concepts, and financial analysis on sites across Washington. Read more.


7. REDI Fund helps acquire East Side Sites – Our Regional Equitable Development Initiative launched in 2017 with a $21 Million pool to purchase sites near transit throughout the Sound Transit region to ensure affordability in Transit Oriented Developments. In 2020, the REDI Fund closed two loans on the East Side of King County, enabling TWG Development to purchase a site to create affordable homes for essential workers and for LifeWire to safely house domestic violence survivors. With these two closings, the REDI Fund has deployed 94 percent of its original capital with loans in four of the five Sound Transit sub-regions.


8. Early Home & Hope sites break ground – Our Home & Hope initiative began its work on feasibility and early stage predevelopment on sites in 2017. Several of those sites are now under construction and will soon create homes, classrooms, and art space. Read about Plymouth Housing’s 2nd and Mercer and Mercy Housing and Bellwether Housing’s Cedar Crossing at Roosevelt.


9. Bob & Marcia Almquist Place Opens – Even more rewarding than celebrating a groundbreaking is celebrating a grand opening! Plymouth Housing brought residents home to Almquist Place, which Enterprise assisted through an REDI Fund acquisition loan and a LIHTC equity investment


10. King County Approves PSTAA – After several years of advocacy at the state and County, we are thrilled that King County adopted its final implementation plan to disburse PSTAA funds. Our team is proud that we were able to bring the housing and early learning sectors together to advocate for these crucial capital resources and that we were able to work with experts to inform the PSTAA implementation plan. Want to know what the acronym stands for and how many millions of dollars? Read more.


11. Lobby Days – While we look forward to virtually lobbying a virtual legislative session in 2021, our team will fondly remember our trips to Olympia for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day and Early Learning Advocacy Day. It was Baby Niamh and Baby Izzy’s first lobby day! 


12. 2020 Policy Wins – While the need for housing for all has never been more dire – to address public health, end homelessness, promote racial equity, and fight climate change – we also celebrate how much the elected officials and voters of the Pacific Northwest have invested in housing in 2020. Successful Enterprise policy priorities include:

  • The State of Washington added $150 Million its Affordable Housing Trust Fund 
  • The City of Seattle passed JumpStart Seattle to fund Covid-relief and permanent supportive housing
  • The Washington legislature passed, and several cities and counties have adopted, the HB1590 Health Through Housing sales tax to create permanent supportive housing
  • King County and its voters approved a County Charter Amendment that will enable the county to dedicate land for free or discount for affordable housing


13. James Madden promoted to direct the PNW Team – And, since this is Jamie himself writing this, all I will say is that I am thankful to Enterprise for the trust, thankful to the PNW housing community for the support, and most of all thankful to this team for all it does. 
 

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