Summer 2017 Newsletter
In this issue: Meet a Bellwether resident turned author, read about the highlights from the Inaugural Putt Putt for Charity Beer Crawl, learn about the major energy efficiency upgrades Bellwether has made at five buildings, get the highlights from our "Technically Speaking" panel discussion, learn about two major renovations underway at existing Bellwether properties, get caught up on the work at our two new properties, and lastly hear about the results of this year's GiveBig fundraising day. 
Resident Spotlight: Diane Chase

When you first walk into Diane Chase’s apartment at Bellwether’s First & Vine Apartments, two things jump out at you – the stunning art hanging on the walls and the apartment’s tidiness. As you get to know Diane, an 84-year-old Seattle native, both make sense. Diane is an art lover who used to work as a kitchen designer. These days, Diane is focused on publishing a cookbook, the manuscripts for which sit in neatly arranged folders on her desk. Diane will readily tell you that she loves living in Belltown with easy access to the Central Library, Pike Place Market, and her church. “To me, my home means comfort and security – and I love the location,” says Diane. 

Mini-golfers putt their way to raising $2000 for Bellwether

On Sunday, May 7th,  Lucky Envelope BrewingPopuluxe BrewingReuben's Brews and  Stoup Brewing hosted the Inaugural Ballard Putt Putt & Beer Crawl for Charity to benefit Bellwether Housing. Over 240 mini-golfers traveled from brewery to brewery, playing original courses, drinking local beers and raising over $2,000 to support affordable housing.  Thanks to all who came out to support Bellwether at this fun event.  More photos can be seen  here.
Partnership paths the way for energy efficiency upgrades at 5 properties 

Sometimes innovation takes on unexpected forms. Bellwether's Property Management team has introduced innovation in the shape of new low-flow toilets, LED lights, and more modern boilers paired with smart thermostats. These energy efficiency improvements were made possible by Bellwether’s participation in the Renew Program for multi-family affordable housing communities, an initiative of the national organization Emerald Cities.

“Historically Bellwether has done a pretty good job in terms of doing energy upgrades, the problem is they’re done kind of piecemeal for individual buildings,” said Bellwether’s Senior Facilities Supervisor, Marty Gleaves. That’s where Renew came in; the program helped Bellwether obtain low-interest loans, allowing Bellwether to make building-wide improvement at five properties this year. Five more properties are slated for energy-savings studies later this year, for upgrades to be made in 2018.

The improvements at the properties have focused on water, gas, and electrical systems. The First and Vine Apartments had new LED lighting installed in all of its hallways and every apartment had smart, programmable thermostats installed. Similar thermostats were installed at Meridian Manor, and Cascade Court received a new boiler and better in-unit ventilation. The Graham Terry apartments had all new toilets installed in residents’ bathrooms, which has already led to huge savings of both water and money.

“[With] the changes we are making, like LED lighting, we go from lighting that has to be maintained on an annual basis to lighting that can go five years without anyone ever touching it, so we reduce maintenance cost and extend the life of the equipment. This is all about sustainability,” said Gleaves.

In addition to the monetary pay-offs associated with energy efficiency, such as a reduced water bill for Bellwether and reduced gas or electric heating bills for residents, participating in the Renew program has other benefits, too. The upgrades Bellwether has made reduce our buildings’ carbon footprint and draw on natural resources. Together, these two benefits will help Bellwether sustain our buildings for the long run, so the resource is there for future Seattleites.

“Sustainability means that we have the opportunity, the money and the wherewithal to provide more housing to more people,” Gleaves said. 

Tech sector and affordable housing advocates come together at "Technically Speaking" panel

On May 16th, Bellwether Housing hosted a panel discussion titled “Technically Speaking: How the Tech Sector Can Help Address Housing Equity Issues” as part of Affordable Housing Week 2017. The panel sought to move discussions about Seattle’s affordable housing crisis beyond talk of sky-rocketing rents as Amazon booms to how the skills, knowledge, human capital, and wealth of the tech sector could be leveraged to help solve the affordable housing crisis. Bellwether’s CEO Susan Boyd moderated the panel which featured Rebekah Bastian, Bellwether Board Member and VP of Product at Zillow, Ethan Phelps-Goodman, founder of Seattle Tech 4 Change, and Jonathan Sposato, Chairman of Geekwire and CEO of PicMonkey.

The panelists discussed new ideas for leveraging data, how existing products can be modified for social good, and how to encourage tech workers to engage politically around housing and homelessness.

Bastian described the shared role both tech companies and housing organizations can play in engaging tech sector employees. “The common denominator here is giving people the opportunity to help. There are so many people who would like to be doing good and helping their communities, but they don’t necessarily see the outlets right in front of them, so creating those opportunities is key," said Bastian.  

Click the video above to watch the full panel on YouTube. 

Seismic safety and energy efficiency the focus of two major renovations
In December of 2016, Bellwether hired Rafn Company and began significant renovation work at Security House and the Cambridge Apartments. This supports our strategic goal of ensuring Bellwether buildings are in exemplary condition and financially sustainable, and provide positive environments for residents.

Built in 1978, Security House boasts 107 one-bedroom units for seniors in the thriving Belltown neighborhood. To date, new energy efficient LED light fixtures have been installed throughout the building. In the bathrooms, energy efficient ventilation fans and baseboard heaters have been installed. Kitchens received more energy efficient vent fans, too. To conserve water, sinks and showerheads with aerators have been installed. Rafn relocated the nurse call alarms to be more accessible to residents and added a second handrail to the hallway. Rafn has repaired or replaced water piping throughout the building. To make it easier for the senior residents to enter and exit the building, Bellwether will install automatic door openers. The renovations should wrap up this summer.

The Cambridge, a lovely 10-story turn-of-the-century brick building on First Hill offering 152 large studio and 1 bedroom units, has been undergoing excavation work below the building in order to make the building seismically sound in the event of an earthquake. New footings will be poured and rebar installed. The building will also receive significant upgrades to the plumbing and heating systems, elevators and the fire safety system. This project will take two years to complete and is on schedule.

Construction Update: Anchor Flats

Anchor Flats, which will offer 71 affordable apartments off South Lake Union to individuals and families, is now 26% complete. Anchor Flats is the second Bellwether development supported by  Seattle’s Future Fund. 43 local, socially motivated investors provided $1.9 million to help finance construction of this project.  Their support generates social impact alongside a financial return.  If you’d like to be informed about future impact investment offerings, please email

Construction Update: Arbora Court

Arbora Court is now 30% complete. This building, located in the University District, will be the largest that Bellwether has ever constructed at 133 units and will include many family-sized units and large indoor and outdoor community and play spaces.  There will also be 40 apartments set aside for families transitioning out of homelessness.  

Bellwether is seeking support to raise funds to purchase furniture so these 40 families can move into homey, fully equipped apartments. By January 2018, we aim to have raised $220,000 with which to purchase high quality, durable furnishings. By the time these families move into Arbora Court in spring of 2018, we will have transformed their apartments into warm and welcoming homes.  Please consider making a tax deductible donation today to help Bellwether reach this important goal. 
Thank you for Giving Big to Bellwether on May 10th!

On May 10th, Bellwether had our most successful #GiveBIG day ever thanks to you. With your generous gifts, Bellwether's donations totaled over $11,00. These funds will support our work of creating affordable homes in high opportunity areas that otherwise would be out of reach to lower wage working people, independent seniors, and families transitioning out of homelessness. We’re humbled and inspired by this amazing show of community generosity. Thank you for giving big!

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