U-District church's dream of providing affordable housing becoming a reality

SEATTLE — Wednesday is a bittersweet day for members of University Christian Church.  Two homes are now torn down that for years the church used to house low income students.

But that means construction just started on a bigger vision from members of the church in Seattle’s University District.  The new Arbora Court project is underway to eventually provide 133 affordable housing units and 40 units for families transitioning out of homelessness.

“It was a very important act of missions for us to be present within the community,” said church member Marsha Tolon.  “And dream the dream that we have for so many years.”

>> Document: Arbora Court Financing

The church donated the land to low income housing non-profit Bellwether, and soon the whole block of 15th Avenue NE at NE 50th street will become Arbora Court. Church leaders say the name symbolizes how it will be a tree of life to people in need.

“For a time in their life they get to exhale,” said Tolon.  “It becomes a place where their family life grows.”

Once construction is done in 16 months and Arbora Court opens, Bellwether estimates anywhere from 130 to 160 kids under age 18 will be living here at any given time.

>> Link: Bellwether Housing

Susan Boyd, Director of Development for Bellwether Housing, told KIRO 7 the demand is there.

“Our vacancy rate is almost zero,” said Boyd.  “Once a vacancy pops up it's taken almost immediately by a family who needs it.”

Money from Seattle, King County, and the state is helping to fund the project.

“It is important to remember that there are good things happening to change this crisis,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.  “Arbora is one of those things and a story we have to tell to grow support to end homelessness.”