Newest Health Through Housing building announced for QT2BIPOC residents, move in to start this fall

Ground floor view from inside the newest Health Through Housing property – a 35-unit building providing permanent supportive housing to QT2BIPOC residents.

King County and the City of Seattle announced last week the operators of the latest Health Through Housing building — a new construction providing 35 units of permanent supportive housing in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The building will be jointly operated by Lavender Rights Project and Chief Seattle Club and will welcome residents this fall.

This 11th Health Through Housing acquisition will serve queer, transgender, Two-spirit, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QT2BIPOC) and provide a place to stabilize in a safe, single-room setting. The Capitol Hill location continues the initiative’s progress to create up to 1,600 emergency housing and permanent supportive housing units for people experiencing or at risk of chronic homelessness.

“Lavender Rights Project is excited to invite our community into their new homes in this beautiful, new community space,” said Jaelynn Scott (she/her), Executive Director of Lavender Rights Project. “Many years of grassroots movement building and activism have made this moment possible, as well as work by King County and the City of Seattle. It is no secret that QT2BIPOC have always had to look after one another, and we know what our community needs better than anyone else.”

Following in the footsteps of acclaimed grassroots organizers such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Lavender Rights Project’s new home will build upon decades of informal housing services created by-and-for the QT2BIPOC community. The staff plans to base all support for residents on long-standing traditions of care that have been passed down for generations by trans and queer People of Color alike.

“We must do so much more to protect vulnerable communities, but this remains an enormous win for trans, queer, and communities of color throughout the Puget Sound,” said Scott. “Lavender Rights Project looks forward to co-creating a home with our future residents and our partner, Chief Seattle Club.”

Alongside King County and the City of Seattle, Lavender Rights Project and Chief Seattle Club will work closely to welcome residents later this year. Pictured left to right: Simon P. Foster from King County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS), Derrick Belgarde from Chief Seattle Club (CSC), Ebo Barton from Lavender Rights Project (LRP), Jaelyn Scott from LRP, Carolanne Sanders from DCHS, and Michael Padilla Ocampo from the King County Executive Office.

Chief Seattle Club will be Lavender Rights Project’s key partner in this innovative housing program and looks forward to inviting residents and community alike for years to come. Chief Seattle Club is a housing and human service agency that provides resources for American Indian and Alaska Native people and is currently the operator of Salmonberry Lofts in Pioneer Square which opened in December 2022.

“Chief Seattle Club and Lavender Rights Project are proud to announce our partnership in managing a new resident building acquired through Health Through Housing. This new building will provide much-needed housing and support services to Two-Spirit, transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse people who are experiencing homelessness,” said Derrick Belgarde, Executive Director of Chief Seattle Club. “We are excited to partner with Lavender Rights Project on this important project. Together, we will provide safe and supportive housing to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

The purchase of the Health Through Housing building used blended funding from King County and the City of Seattle, including $6 million from repurposing of funds originally allocated for the jail. King County and the City of Seattle announced in 2021 the intention to reinvest $16 million in upstream community-based health and housing programs for communities that are disproportionately affected by the legal system and incarceration.

Co-chairs from Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission applauded the collaboration. In a statement, the Commission shared that they are “[p]leased that King County and the City of Seattle have redirected funding originally intended for incarceration into permanent supportive housing for our QT2BIPOC residents.” The Commission thanked “the many people who are building a safe and inclusive place for our community members to live full lives and encourage the City and County to continue building high quality, affordable housing for our most marginalized residents.”

By rapidly acquiring existing facilities, such as former hotels and other similar properties, Health Through Housing creates supportive housing units that are dignified, affordable, and service enriched. The initiative also centers equity in its approach to serving communities disproportionately impacted by chronic homelessness. Compared to their share of the general King County population, American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latinx communities are all overrepresented among those experiencing chronic homelessness. This is especially pronounced for QT2BIPOC.

Since 2021, King County has purchased six buildings in Seattle, plus buildings in Auburn, Federal Way, Kirkland, Redmond, and Renton. King County continues to work with local jurisdictions and providers to open buildings and meet the initiative’s goals. Two more buildings are anticipated to open later this year.