It was hard for Cleveland Harmon to find words to express his feelings about his new home.
“No more boxes,” said Harmon in front of a crowd gathered in the building’s downstairs conference room and overflowing down a narrow hallway. “Today I have a key that opens the door. My door … today I’m proud to say that the Cheryl Chow Court is my home.”
The Low Income Housing Institute opened the 50 new apartments in Ballard on April 24. Split between one-bedroom apartments and studios, all tenants are seniors over 62, and 40 percent were previously homeless.
The apartments, located at 2014 NW 57th St. in downtown Ballard, are within walking distance from the Seattle Public Library, Ballard Commons Park, NW Market Street and the Bay Movie Theatre.
The grand opening was hosted by Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, a nonprofit Seattle based organization involved in low-income housing services, advocacy and management.
Those involved with the project said they are proud of providing apartments to such a diverse group in an area known for its likability, but not its diversity.
Many of the CCC’s apartments are accessible to those with mobility challenges. The building also has rooms accessible to the hearing and sight impaired. The apartments also contain special features that include lower counter-tops and roll-in showers. The building is green friendly with low-flow water fixtures, native plant landscaping, and an efficient drip irrigation system in the building’s rooftop garden.
Carrying on from the trend set by Chow, the CCC will also provide Ballard’s homeless and CCC tenants with an Urban Rest Stop of their own. Currently under construction, the first floor URS will provide showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities.
For many CCC residents like Harmon, the safety of having a home doesn’t yet feel like reality.
“This has been a long and very difficult journey for me,” said Harmon. “Having to search alleys for cardboard boxes to sleep in. Going through what you can while battling nights so cold, you couldn’t fall asleep if you wanted to.”
The Low Income Housing Institute helped the CCC implement a sliding rent program, which was brought together through a HUD contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The sliding scale allows tenants to pay 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income, with HUD paying the difference between that and the actual rent.
Many different speakers were present and received plaques for their part in the CCC’s opening, including Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
“The fact is that we came together throughout the community and across the country to make this happen,” said O’Brien.
With $2 million coming out of the housing budget to help with construction, O’Brien spoke on what he, his colleagues, and the city went through in order to complete the project.
“That’s all of your money,” said O’Brien. “That money happened because of the generosity of the people of Seattle, who have repeatedly voted to tax themselves because funding affordable housing is a priority.”
At the end of the speeches and as guests shuffled outside into a sunny but windy spring day, the new CCC apartments officially started their new life.
“There was help on the way, someone willing and able to give me another chance,” said Harmon. “A chance to live again and be the person I was meant to be, and by the grace of God, a lot of prayer and help from people like yourself, I stand before you today thanking each and every one for giving me that chance.”