News Blog for Seattle's University District Neighborhood


Boutique hotel for the homeless? Groundbreaking for University Apartments

July 19th, 2010 · 4 Comments

From the front porch of her U-District home, Amy has seen and heard all the construction going on next door.  Up until now, she assumed the crews waking her up every morning were working on a new condo project.  Little did she know what started as a boutique hotel is now becoming an apartment complex for the homeless.

“Really? I had no idea,” said Amy.  “I actually used to be homeless myself.  Better that project than new townhomes.”

This afternoon, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held for the University Apartments in the 4700 block of 12th Ave NE, although construction has been well underway for weeks.  The site, which was purchased by the Low Income Housing Institute when plans for a hotel fell through, will feature 62 units of permanent affordable housing for homeless individuals, couples, and veterans.  Project supporters say it’s designed for people who want to turn their lives around and put homelessness behind them.

“These are challenging times and this is somewhat of a challenged neighborhood” said State Senator Ed Murray who represents the U-District.  “It’s hope about revitalizing the city, it’s hope about helping those in need.”

The new complex is funded in part through the City of Seattle, which kicked in $3.7 million through a housing levy.  The building will be built green and is expected to open next summer.  While Amy and several other nearby residents say they welcome their new neighbors, they do worry about security.

“We screen very carefully,” said Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute.  Lee says people with criminal backgrounds won’t be allowed.  There will also be an on-site resident manager, and Sound Mental Health will provide residents with everything from job training to counseling. 

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