Saturday, February 18, 2017
|Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas, Compass Exec Director Janet Pope, |
Rev. Kelly Dahlmen-Oeth, County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, Mayor Chris Roberts
Photos by Steven H. Robinson
Ronald Commons, an innovative and comprehensive approach to helping North King County’s homeless and low-income residents gain stability and a pathway out of poverty, has opened its doors in Shoreline.
Through a unique partnership between three local organizations with deep roots in the community, Ronald Commons offers 60 affordable apartments to formerly homeless and low-income individuals and families, including formerly homeless veterans and families with a developmentally disabled member.
|Ronald Commons faces Linden Ave N.|
Ronald Commons also offers residents and the broader community access to critical support services, including a “grocery store-style” food bank, family services, financial education and assistance.
The region is facing a dual challenge: the shortage of affordable housing and an escalating homelessness crisis. At the same time, people who are in crisis are looking for support and stability. Ronald Commons is a direct response to these pressing needs.
|Several hundred people attended the groundbreaking ceremony|
Residents have begun moving into the newly available units and more than 300 people, including local community leaders, attended a grand opening ceremony held Friday, February 17.
Ronald Commons, which is a collaboration between Compass Housing Alliance, Hopelink and Ronald United Methodist Church, is located adjacent to Ronald United Methodist Church located at 17837 Aurora Avenue N. in Shoreline.
|Hopelink has a new, permanent facility in the building.|
The playground and raised garden beds are for residents.
Ronald Methodist Church is in the background.
“This is our first permanent housing facility in Shoreline and Compass Housing Alliance is building on nearly 100 years of experience providing shelter, housing and people-centered support services to homeless and low-income individuals,” said Janet Pope, executive director of Compass Housing Alliance.
“Our goal has always been to provide meaningful solutions to those who need it and we recognize that it is critical that organizations collaborate. That is why we are proud to work with our partners Hopelink and Ronald United Methodist Church. Ronald Commons is one of over 20 locations where we are serving a vulnerable population and it accelerates access to much-needed affordable housing today while creating the vibrant community we want for tomorrow.”
|Handicapped accessible unit|
|Wheelchair accessible bathroom|
The 60 units of affordable housing is owned and operated by Compass Housing Alliance, and includes 12 units for veterans and their families. Half of the units are being rented to households who earn 30 percent or below the King County area median income. The other half are being rented to households earning 50 percent or less.
|Hopelink reception area|
Ronald Commons also includes a new 12,000-square-foot integrated service center, owned and operated by Hopelink, which started serving clients February 7. In addition to a food bank, Hopelink provides a full array of support programs to help stabilize clients who are in crisis, and then provide them with the tools needed to exit poverty on a permanent basis — including adult education, career and family development, energy assistance and financial planning.
Hopelink CEO Lauren Thomas said the new facility is part of a “vibrant, cohesive, responsive new approach to helping our low-income neighbors.”
“I had a chance to walk through the new food bank last week, and it was so exciting to see it filled with our clients,” Thomas said. “Not only is this center much larger than our previous location in Shoreline — with added services to help clients — but the food bank is more user-friendly, with three times the number of hours available to visit.”
|Entrance to food bank at Hopelink|
Thomas said for the first time ever in Shoreline, food bank clients will be able to “shop” as if they are in a regular grocery store. “That’s significant for so many reasons. They’ll be able to take their time reading labels and choosing exactly the foods that are right for their families,” she explained and added that by 2020, the new Hopelink Shoreline center will provide food and comprehensive support services to about 2,500 members of the community every year, providing stability and a path out of poverty.
|Food in the food bank comes from community donations, from bulk purchases |
made with cash donations, and from other Hopelink food banks in the area.
The new, larger Ronald Commons site replaces the Shoreline Hopelink center that has occupied a leased space at Aurora Square since 2006.
|Rev. Kelly Dahlman-Oeth|
Photo courtesy Ronald UMC
"As a church in the heart of the community of Shoreline, we take seriously our responsibility to be a heart in the community,” Dahlman-Oeth said.
“We are eager to meet our neighbors, and to build relationships with them that we might learn together, grow together and continue to make our community a place where all are welcome."