Apartments raise hopes of seniors, veterans

Apartments raise hopes of seniors, veterans

By Carley Thompson

May 30 marked the grand opening of Blake House and The Rise on Madison, the first affordable-housing high-rise in Seattle in more than 50 years. Brought to life through a partnership between non-profits Bellwether Housing and Plymouth Housing, the 17-story building in the First Hill neighborhood is a blend of permanent supportive housing for seniors and veterans experiencing chronic homelessness, and independent housing for individuals and families on modest incomes. 

Blake House and The Rise on Madison are two apartment complexes. Plymouth will operate Blake on floors two through five, and Bellwether will operate The Rise on floors six through 17. In total, there are 362 units. 

The first residents of Blake House moved in earlier this year.

King County’s Housing Finance Program (HFP) funded the 112-unit Blake House, with $3 million from the countywide Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) among the money covering construction of units specifically for seniors and senior veterans. VSHSL’s investments are helping increase the county’s affordable-housing, provide transitional housing, assist the homeless-crisis response system, help county residents avoid foreclosure and eviction, and support programs that help older adults age in place.   

“Our communities are faced with growing challenges, especially veterans and older adults,” said Leon Richardson. Director of adult services for the county’s Department of Community and Human Services. “Blake House will help stabilize veterans and senior veterans experiencing homelessness in our communities, honoring all they have contributed to King County.” 

Blake House and The Rise on Madison is on land donated by Sound Transit. Additional public funders include the Seattle Office of Housing and the state Department of Commerce.

Close to jobs, transit, and healthcare services, the building is an example of equitable transit-oriented development and opportunities for people who are priced out of the current housing market, officials said. 

Blake House features a ground-floor retail space, on-site health care for residents through Swedish Health Services, and on-site case managers from Plymouth Housing, a Seattle-based provider of housing and related services.

Bellweather Housing, also based in Seattle, builds and manages affordable apartments that are home to about 5,000 people in King County. It also has consulted with other non-profits on the development of similar housing in Tacoma, Olympia, Redmond, Seattle and Shelton.

Blake House is named for the late Blake Nordstrom, a longtime advocate of local housing and efforts to end homelessness. He started a job-training program at one of his family’s Nordstrom Rack stores in downtown Seattle.

Originally published on the “Cultivating Connections” blog of King County Department of Community and Human Services.