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April 28, 2016

U District building has food bank below, and veggie garden on top

Rendering by Runberg Architecture Group [enlarge]
Vegetables grown on the roof will supply the food bank.

Low Income Housing Institute is preparing to open the Marion West building in June at 5019 Roosevelt Way N.E. in Seattle.

LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee said the four-story building will have 20 units for homeless young adults, five units for homeless couples or a parent and child, 23 workforce units and a manager's unit.

Units will be studios with about 400 square feet, except the one-bedroom manager's unit.

University District Food Bank will take space on the ground floor. Lee said a rooftop garden will supply vegetables and herbs to the food bank, which also will have a kitchen for cooking classes.

An office for the manager and some parking will also be on the ground floor.

Lee said units for homeless people on the second floor will be a little smaller, but they will share lounges, an outdoor deck and community room on that level. Workforce housing will be on the two levels above.

People in the workforce housing units will pay $599 to $913 a month, depending on income. To be eligible, renters must make between 40 and 60 percent of median area income. For individuals, that's up to $37,680 a year and for couples that's $43,020.

There will be a lottery for the workforce units. Information is available on LIHI's website. The drawing will be May 5.

Lee said homeless people between 18 and 25 years old will be placed at Marion West by YouthCare through the dial 211 emergency food and shelter system. They will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent.

University District Food Bank can triple in size with the new location. It must raise another $400,000 to meet its $3.6 million funding campaign. Lee said money has come from the city, the state Building Communities Fund, foundations and individual donors.

BNBuilders is the general contractor for the 37,500-square-foot building, which is wood-frame above a concrete deck. The contractor self-performed framing and concrete work.

Runberg Architecture Group is the designer. KeyBank provided an $8.7 million construction loan for LIHI and the food bank.

LIHI got low-income housing tax credits from National Equity Fund, $8.7 million from the Seattle Housing Levy, $2.8 million from King County, $1.8 million from Wyncote Foundation Northwest and $693,000 from the state Department of Commerce.

Lee said low-income housing tax credits are a major funding source for projects like Marion West, and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has a bill in Congress to expand that program by 50 percent nationwide.

Marion West is a local woman who was persecuted in the 1950s for being in a mixed-race marriage, Lee said.

According to online information from the University of Washington, West's family immigrated here from Scandinavia. She attended the UW in the late 1940s, where she met her future husband, Ray West, an African American who was attending college on the GI Bill.

In 1952, the Wests bought an old fraternity house in the University District and leased rooms to minority students who had trouble renting in the area.

Information from the UW said they endured years of harassment by neighbors and moved to Madrona with their two children in the late 1950s.

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