Gardner House and Allen Family Center
Frequently Asked Questions
The number of families experiencing homelessness remains at crisis level in Seattle, and often hidden from view. When seeking help, these same families face a fragmented system where providers work side by side, but not as one.
In spring 2020, a super team of nonprofit partners launched a resource with a different vision: Allen Family Center
Read on for answers to our most frequently asked questions:
How to Access Allen Family Center Services?
Click here for updated hours of operation and contact information.
Are Gardner House and Allen Family Center only for homeless families around the Mount Baker area?
No. Both the housing and the ground-floor Allen Family Center are designed to provide homes and services for families of all different circumstances, including families who are experiencing or are on the verge of homelessness. Allen Family Center provides everything from housing assistance to connection with childcare to kids’ play groups, and in settings where families feel welcome and get nearly all of what they need in one place.
Why the focus on families?
We are taking a multi-generational approach to addressing this crisis. We believe that focusing on families will most effectively disrupt the cycle of homelessness. Studies have shown that individuals who were homeless in their youth are five times more likely to experience homelessness as an adult.
Family-sized housing is in short supply in Seattle, while homelessness remains at crisis levels. Families are uniquely vulnerable because there are fewer affordable places to live that are suitable for their size and needs.
How many families are housed at Gardner House?
- There are 95 affordable, family-sized apartments; roughly half are permanent affordable housing, while the other half are for families experiencing homelessness.
- 28 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) are for the most vulnerable homeless families; 19 units help homeless families who have achieved more stability to transition towards mainstream affordable housing; 47 units offer affordable housing for low-wage working families who are earning up to $60,000 a year; and 1 onsite manager unit.
- The building has 37 one-bedroom, 42 two-bedroom, and 16 three-bedroom apartments.
What does the application process and customer journey look like?
Where is the building located?
Gardner House and Allen Family Center is located in the Mount Baker neighborhood at 2870 S Hanford St. This location is in a transit- and amenity-rich area, one block from the Mount Baker Link Light Rail Station, two blocks from a King County Metro bus transit hub, within walking distance to and close to schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, restaurants, and other community services.
What service providers will be onsite?
The onsite Allen Family Center will help to break through service fragmentation that has challenged access for families experiencing homelessness. Below is the list of service providers and their areas of focus.
- Mary’s Place: Diversion, housing placement, and homelessness prevention.
- Child Care Resources: Help in securing childcare and Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups.
- Refugee Women’s Alliance: Housing, job navigation, mental health and other services for immigrant/refugee families.
- Mercy Housing Northwest: Out-of-school time programs, health education, financial stability.
How is this project innovative? How is it different from other low-income housing buildings?
A big part of the innovation in this project lies with the unique partnerships working together to co-design the space and programming. By bringing together expert service providers with different specialties, we are able to identify service and referral gaps and work together to close those gaps. While many social service providers regularly collaborate with each other, we are pushing the collaboration further by asking what it would take to create a truly integrated center with multiple service providers.
What is diversion?
Diversion is explored with households accessing the Seattle/King County crisis response system who are experiencing literal homelessness or fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence without a safe housing option. It assists households to quickly secure permanent or temporary housing by encouraging creative and cost-effective solutions that meet their unique needs. It is a short-term intervention focused on identifying immediate, safe housing arrangements, often utilizing conflict resolution and mediation skills to reconnect people to their support systems. Diversion offers flexible services that may be coupled with minimal financial assistance when needed. (Description of diversion provided by All Home)
What is the building timeline?
The building was completed in early 2020.
Who paid for this building?
In 2017, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced a $30 million investment to fund the development and construction of a permanent housing facility. The Seattle Office of Housing contributed $5 million. Additionally, $10.7 million was made available through a 4% tax credit from U.S. Bank CDC. The total cost of the building is $46 million. Bank of America has provided a $20.3 million tax-exempt bond construction loan.
What is the Seahawks commitment to this project?
The Seahawks supported the inclusion of a playground onsite and plan to be regularly involved and invested in the Center to encourage, educate and inspire youth through a variety of programs, events, and branding.
Is Vulcan Real Estate the developer of the project?
No. Mercy Housing Northwest is the owner, developer, and operator. Vulcan Real Estate has provided in-kind strategic counsel on an as-needed basis.
A skeptic would look at this as a housing “project” – how is this different?
We created a community resource that provides residents with safe, secure housing and onsite services necessary to help people avoid or rise out of homelessness. The apartments will serve households with a range of incomes. Additionally, Allen Family Center will be available not just to residents, but to the broader community.
Special Thanks to All of Our Project Partners
Allen Family Center Program Advisory Council, Bank of America, Child Care Resources, City of Seattle Human Services Department, City of Seattle Office of Housing, Comcast NBCUniversal, Humble Design, King County, Mary’s Place, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, ReWA (Refugee Women’s Alliance), Runberg Architecture, Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Seahawks, U.S. Bank CDC, Valley Cities, Vulcan Inc., Walsh Construction, Washington State Department of Commerce — Building Communities, and Washington State Housing Finance Commission
Allen Family Center
3190 South Hanford Street
Seattle, WA 98144