Margaret Pak Enslow has been appointed the new president of the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation Board. Margaret has been on the CHHF Board since 2015, and she was formerly the vice president of the board.
How did you get involved with Capitol Hill Housing?
I live in Capitol Hill, and I knew Capitol Hill Housing by reputation as a great organization; I was always hearing a lot of good things about it. At the time, I was involved in this organization called the Cal Anderson Park Alliance, and after collaborating with CHH on an event, I got more involved with Capitol Hill Housing and was invited to join the Foundation Board.
Affordable housing is obviously a prevalent issue in this city and many others, but what made you get involved with this particular issue and organization?
Housing and education are really important to me. I moved around a lot as a kid, and I always thought my dad just liked to move. That’s how I interpreted all the moving. But as I became older, I realized it wasn’t that. My dad didn’t like to move. Really what it came down to was, my parents were renters, and they were always trying to find cheaper rent in a good public school district. So we were always moving because of housing insecurity, and as an adult, I finally understood what was happening in retrospect. So housing is just very important to me, and Capitol Hill Housing is amazing because I know people who are residents there, and they don’t have to worry about their housing. They can focus on their family.
So your parents were always trying to find good public schools, and you became a lawyer. Can you talk about that journey?
Well, I always wanted to be a teacher, but my parents were like, “Oh, no, no, no, teachers don’t get paid enough money; you cannot be a teacher.” So I became a lawyer, which I enjoy very much, and then I also teach at Seattle Central. But yeah, my parents always emphasized education. As many immigrants do, my parents sought better opportunities for their children. So even though we were moving around a lot and didn’t have that stability, there was always this focus on getting a good education. In fact, that’s why we were moving so much.
So housing and education are inextricably linked for you.
Yeah, they are.
What do you see as the biggest housing issues facing Seattle?
I think it’s just getting more units. We need to get more units in the hands of affordable housing groups like Capitol Hill Housing.
What goals do you have as board president?
I feel so lucky because we have an amazing Foundation staff. I, as a lawyer, and as someone who did commercial litigation, am very goal-oriented, very capitalist mindset – I have learned a lot about how to just be open and trust the staff. When I have a very predictable question like “when is it gonna happen? What’s the cost-benefit analysis?” I really resist that because what I’ve learned over the years of being involved with this organization is that they really are doing things in a thoughtful way. That is critical when you’re dealing with people’s housing. So maximum efficiency is not the goal here. Even though I do wish for more affordable housing units, we can’t do it in a way that’s counterproductive with the goals of affordable housing. So my goal is really to support the staff, to offer my perspective, and really just support the mission work that we do.