High-rise with affordable housing units opens in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood

SEATTLE — A new high-rise building in the First Hill neighborhood is the first of its kind in Seattle in 50 years.

The building is at the intersection of Madison and Boylston and while it’s all one building, it serves two functions. One part of the building is called The Rise and provides units for low-to-modest income families. The Rise occupies floors six through 17 while Blake House, which provides permanent supportive housing for those facing chronic homelessness, occupies floors one through five.

“It’s an incredible model for other organizations to know that we can build something of this scale successfully,” Susan Boyd, the CEO of Bellwether Housing, said. Blake House has 112 units and The Rise has 250. The building came together as part of a partnership between two non-profts, Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing. The land was surplus land from Sound Transit and was provided to them for affordable housing.

“The two of us are just a nice symbiotic relationship, I’ve always thought,” Karen Lee, the CEO of Plymouth Housing, said. Plymouth Housing manages the Blake House side of the building. Lee said what sets them apart is their ability to provide on-site services to people who are coming out of homelessness, seniors and veterans.

“Just think of all the skills it takes for daily life, that’s everything we have to help with here at Plymouth,” Lee said. On the Bellwether side, Boyd explained their focus is to provide affordable housing for people with low-to-modest incomes.

“People who have very little income but have a housing voucher to help pay a limited amount of rent or people who have jobs and just cannot afford to live in market-rate housing here,” Boyd said. Both Blake House and The Rise provide community spaces, on-site laundry and outdoor rooftops for residents.

“When you are lower income you don’t really live in an environment like this,” Lee said. “A lot of the places that you see lower income individuals living in, in Seattle, it would just break your heart.”

The big differences in the two are that Blake House provides on-site services including case managers like Angel Sezar. She helps make sure units are ready to go with all of the basic things people need.

“Pots, pans, basic food needs, we have towels, we put a new mattress, everyone gets a new mattress, comforter and bathroom essentials,” Sezar said.

If you’d like more information on Blake House, click here. For more information on The Rise, click here.