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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine announces new partnerships to bring housing and hope to those leaving homelessness

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced partnerships to help people and families leave homelessness. By providing Harbor Island warehouse space to the BLOCK Project and Humble Design, King County makes it possible to stage, store, construct, and furnish homes for people beginning new lives.

Story

Harbor Island warehouse

King County is making its warehouse on Harbor Island available to two nonprofits so they can store, stage, construct, and furnish homes for people and families who are transitioning out of homelessness.

Executive Dow Constantine today announced that King County will make a large warehouse on Harbor Island available to a nonprofit that will build small, sustainable homes that can be placed in residential backyards and to another nonprofit that will furnish other homes for families that are transitioning out of homelessness.

Beginning this spring, the public will be invited to the county's warehouse to help The BLOCK Project build the small cottage-style homes and donate gently used furniture, dishes and other household supplies to Humble Design to help families exiting homelessness 

"People become homeless for many reasons, and there is no single solution to the homelessness crisis," said Executive Constantine. "To make a difference, it will take all of us – government, philanthropy, everyday people – bringing resources, energy, and ideas. King County’s partnership with the BLOCK Project and Humble Design underscores that we all have something to offer our neighbors in need, and we can all do our part to help people and families leave the streets and the shelters and become healthy, happy, and self-sufficient."

Working with an entire neighborhood block to create a welcoming space

King County's warehouse will provide The BLOCK Project staff and volunteers with much-needed space to store materials and build the self-contained homes so they can be easily installed in residentail backyards and hooked up to utilities.

The first BLOCK Project in Seattle was built on Beacon Hill in 2017. The staff works with every resident in the neighborhood block, not just the individual homeowner, to make sure everyone has a positive experience.

The BLOCK Project concept was created in 2016 by architects Rex Hohlbein and Jenn LaFreniere. Architects design, permit, and manage construction. Facing Homelessness, which focuses on building community understanding and awareness about homelessness, oversees The BLOCK Project.

"The BLOCK Project provides our community a direct path for ending homelessness," said Rex Hohlbein, Founder and Creative Director for Facing Homelessness. "Facing Homelessness, BLOCK Architects and King County – representing the non-profit, private and public sectors – model the collaborative approach needed to bring people off our streets and into healthy community."

Helping families transition out of shelter and into a home

Most people living in shelters or vehicles have very few belongings and move to a new apartment or house with little or no furniture. Humble Design collects gently used donated furniture, dishes and other household supplies to support families exiting homelessness.

The staff meets with each family member to learn what colors and styles they like best, and “shop” for items in the county's warehouse to match the family’s wishes. Each family receives a fully furnished home to give them a fresh start on a new life. Humble Design reports extraordinary success with their program, with only 1 percent of the families they have served returning to homelessness.

The Detroit-based Humble Design will open a new location in Seattle thanks in part to a grant awarded by the Schultz Family Foundation, a strong local advocate for ending family homelessness. U-Haul, a national partner with Humble Design, will provide transportation, picking up and delivering donated furniture.

"With the help of King County’s incredible warehouse donation we can work toward ending the revolving door of homelessness in Seattle," said Rob Strasberg, Co-CEO, Humble Design. "We will be turning empty houses into warm, welcoming, fully furnished homes thru a dignified experience so recently homeless families, veterans and individuals can start again with success."

Mary’s Place, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless families, will refer those in need to both The BLOCK Project and Humble Design. King County currently partners with Mary’s Place on two enhanced family shelters in formerly vacant county office buildings, one in White Center and another in Kenmore.

Volunteer opportunities open to the public

Humble Design and The BLOCK Project will spend the next several weeks moving in and gearing up operations at the King County warehouse located on Harbor Island, at the mouth of the Duwamish River.

Both rely on community involvement and welcome volunteers. Help will be needed to build, assemble or landscape BLOCK homes; donate furniture and other household goods; or clean and help stage a home for a family on move-in day. Information on volunteering will be posted on each of the partners’ websites.


Relevant links


Quotes

People become homeless for many reasons, and there is no single solution to the homelessness crisis. To make a difference, it will take all of us – government, philanthropy, everyday people – bringing resources, energy, and ideas. King County’s partnership with the BLOCK Project and Humble Design underscores that we all have something to offer our neighbors in need, and we can all do our part to help people and families leave the streets and the shelters and become healthy, happy, and self-sufficient.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

With the help of King County’s incredible warehouse donation we can work toward ending the revolving door of homelessness in Seattle. We will be turning empty houses into warm, welcoming, fully furnished homes thru a dignified experience so recently homeless families, veterans and individuals can start again with success.

Rob Strasberg, Co-CEO, Humble Design

The Block Project provides our community a direct path for ending homelessness. Facing Homelessness, BLOCK Architects and King County – representing the non-profit, private and public sectors – model the collaborative approach needed to bring people off our streets and into healthy community.

Rex Hohlbein, Facing Homelessness and BLOCK Project

Our shared ideals and impact objectives to help people meet their basic human needs make Humble Design and U-Haul effective partners. There is a collective passion to make a genuine difference in Seattle while fighting the epidemic of homelessness. Our iconic moving equipment helps people move to new homes, while Humble Design turns empty spaces into warm, welcoming homes through their incredible services for families in need. We’re truly honored to be a part of this affiliation and expansion into King County.

Kim Merow, Marketing Company President, U-Haul Company of South Seattle

The Schultz Family Foundation is proud to support the launch of Humble Design in Seattle/King County.  We believe in their mission and have confidence that their efforts will complement existing services to bring stability and dignity to families who need it the most.

Daniel Pitasky, Executive Director, Schultz Family Foundation

Mary’s Place is so excited to work with Humble Design, the BLOCK Project and King County to help families in our community who are experiencing homelessness.

Marty Hartman, Executive Director, Mary’s Place

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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