Compelling Words from Our Executive Director

Those who attended our fundraising breakfast on November 2nd heard these words from Executive Director Phedra Elliott. This sums up what HRB is all about and why we think what we do is very important to the entire community.

For those of you who couldn’t be there – we hope you will find this a reason to donate to HRB. There is still time to have your donation matched if you send it in by Friday November 17th!

“Good morning everyone and welcome to Housing Resources Bainbridge Fall Breakfast!
My name is Phedra Elliott and I am Executive Director of HRB. On behalf of our board and staff, I am really pleased to welcome you all here this morning.

We’ve had a really busy year once again at HRB.

At the end of 2016, we completed the second phase of Ferncliff Village – 16 beautiful townhomes. This makes for a total of 40 affordable homes at Ferncliff that are now owned by members of this community.

We also experienced our first resales at Ferncliff this year. Ferncliff is a community land trust and the purpose of a community land trust is to preserve the affordability of the homes there forever. I won’t get into the weeds on how this works right now, but I will say that it worked as designed.

A home that sold in 2013 for $154,000, resold in 2017 for $163,000. This gave a return to the seller and still provided an affordable home for another qualified family.

We worked hard to maintain our 89 units of rental housing. Over the last several years, we’ve been able to upgrade to ductless heat pumps in many units and to upgrade flooring and kitchens in some and to continue exterior building maintenance and curb appeal. It’s very important that we keep these apartments and homes well maintained so that they continue to last for our residents and our community.

Our Independent Living program has assisted more than 40 people with resources and completed 10 projects this year so far allowing those folks to remain safely at home longer. We’ve made 14 matches in our HomeShare program – which provides housing that is more affordable to the homeowner and the homeseeker.

While all these things I have mentioned are positive steps in providing affordability, we know they are not enough.

We know this because:

• At this point in 2017, we have assisted more than 676 individuals with their housing. This is 20% more than we worked with in all of 2016.
We know this because:
• We have 40 families on our Homeownership waiting list and
We know this because:
• We have 48 families on the rental waiting list.
We know this because:
• We know this because of the folks who call us every day who are losing their housing even though they have jobs and work hard.

An acquaintance – someone who doesn’t work in housing or human services- told me the other day that she could easily think of at least 5 families in her life who had struggled with their housing in the last year and I think that is not unusual. We have an affordable housing crisis on our hands and we all know it.

At HRB, we are deeply committed to preserving the affordable housing that exists and to adding more into the local housing stock to help those at a range of income levels. As an organization, we must be ready to act when opportunities present themselves and we must have resources to draw on to do this. Resources like money, expertise, and partners. We are currently focusing on sharpening our tools, and our capacity to be able to act quickly and be the leader on this issue on Bainbridge Island.

But we can’t do it alone. As a community, we all must be committed to this too.

There are so many amazing people that live and work here. Losing any one of us because housing is out of reach and not gaining those who want and need to live here threatens the very fabric of the Island – the diversity and vitality that comes when all kinds of people from different backgrounds live together.
Knowing and being a part of the lives of all kinds of people is what makes Bainbridge great. It is in fact what makes any community healthier and stronger. Many islanders may never need HRB’s housing or services, but our work and our mission touches everyone on Bainbridge with almost no degrees of separation.

Stand in any crowd at any event on Bainbridge Island and our residents and clients from the past, present, and future are likely there with you, but most of us wouldn’t even know it. What we do see is:

• a neighbor,
• an old acquaintance,
• a fellow parent from school,
• the aid who cares for our aging parent,
• the teacher who has inspired our child to learn,
• someone we ride the ferry with,
• the EMT that saved someone’s life
• the police officers that keep us safe
• those who work in our stores and restaurants
• a friend of a friend
• and our closest friends.

These are people who touch our lives in big and small ways. We want a community that is inclusive of all of us because we are all important.

It seems to be a divisive world right now and sometimes we are made to feel that there is an Us and Them. We want to be with Us and we don’t trust Them or at least we don’t relate to Them.

But I think there is no Them and no Us. We are all them and we are all us. We all want our place and our home. We are all connected. This is Bainbridge Island and this is home.

Thank you for coming this morning and for supporting all of Us.”