More than ever

Community Roots Housing annual report 2023

“Centering residents” is a phrase we have used frequently over the past few years. That may sound a bit vague, or performative, so let’s start with a little explanation: When Community Roots Housing began as a small neighborhood group 48 years ago, we were focused on the built environment. As we began buying and constructing apartment buildings, we first became responsible for managing people’s homes. It wasn’t until 2012 that we even started a resident services program and in 2023, for the first time in our history, we added the word “residents” to our mission statement.

Today, more than ever, we are committed to the success and well-being of our residents. We manage and maintain their homes, their personal sanctuaries. It is a privilege and a significant responsibility to work in this space—one that requires listening and collaboration. To that end, under the leadership of resident board member Saunatina Sanchez, we are establishing a resident advisory council.

What is a resident advisory council? It is a place where residents can be heard. It is a place where residents can share their knowledge and expertise to help us achieve shared goals. It is a place where residents and staff can collaborate, not as tenants, but as partners.

That’s what “centering residents” means to us.

It also means looking ahead and building new housing for future residents. It’s estimated that over the next 20 years, Seattle needs to create more than 70,000 new homes affordable to those earning 80% of the Area Median Income or less. In 2023, Community Roots began leasing four new projects totaling 526 affordable apartments for low-income households, with a focus on people who have faced displacement from historic LGBTQIA+, Asian American, and African American communities. This is the largest number of new homes we have ever embarked upon in one year.

Community Roots’ commitment to resident well-being and to expanding access to affordable housing— especially for those displaced by high rents and housing costs—is not deterred by the challenges we face. We appreciate that the challenges can seem overwhelming at times, but we will always lead with our commitment to humanity and equity, we will always lead with hope in our hearts, and we will always lead with joy.


Christopher Persons and Drew Porter photos

Community Roots plans for a Resident Advisory Council

In 2023, Community Roots resident board member Saunatina Sanchez and staff began researching and planning for the establishment of a Resident Advisory Council. Resident councils help elevate resident voices, foster connections between neighbors, and cultivate positive living environments. Most importantly, resident councils provide a platform for tenants to contribute feedback and ideas. Community Roots’ hope is that a resident council will give staff and residents an opportunity to engage in advocacy, problem-solving, and innovation together, guided by the lived experience of people who call Community Roots buildings home.

The Community Roots Resident Services team hosted several informational sessions throughout the year to hear what residents would like to see in a council, and ‘How to Establish a Resident Council’ was one of two main topics of Community Roots Housing’s annual leadership and board retreat in 2023. The council will launch in 2024.

Grand openings

In 2023, 13th & Fir, Pride Place, and Heartwood welcomed their first residents home, adding 400 new apartments to Seattle’s stock of affordable housing. We also began leasing for another 126 units at Africatown Plaza, scheduled to open in spring 2024.

13th & Fir marks an important milestone in the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. In the early 1940s, the Seattle Housing Authority established Yesler Terrace as the first public housing development in the state and the first racially integrated public housing in the country. Census data designates the location as an area with a high risk of displacement and high level of access to opportunity. In 2018, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority and Community Roots won a joint bid to Seattle Housing Authority to develop a mixed-use affordable housing project on a lot that previously served as the site for the King County Archives. Today, 13th & Fir stands in one of the most central neighborhoods in Seattle, offering new, current, and previously displaced residents convenient access to jobs, school, healthcare, transit, and opportunity.

Pride Place brings seven stories of new affordable housing to the heart of Capitol Hill, situated directly over retail space and a 4,400-square-foot senior community center operated by GenPride.

Capitol Hill is the historic home and cultural center for LGBTQIA+ life in Seattle. Pride Place was purposefully designed to provide safe, stable housing for LGBTQIA+ elders and allies ages 55+ to age in community. LGBTQIA+ seniors face a unique set of challenges and health disparities as they age: compared to their peers, they are more likely to be in poverty, are at higher risk for illness, are less likely to have the support of children or biological family, and often face discrimination and difficulty finding culturally competent care. The GenPride community center at Pride Place will offer health and support services, programs to reduce social isolation, a wide variety of recreational activities, and a welcoming place for LGBTQIA+ seniors from across the region to gather.

In October, Rise Together partners, community members, and new residents of Pride Place gathered to celebrate the grand opening of this groundbreaking project.

Hear from Pride Place residents

Watch the video below to hear about the impact of Rise Together’s work on projects like Pride Place.

Located at Union and 14th, Heartwood brings 126 units of workforce housing to central Seattle, filling a critical need for middle-income housing in the city. Middle-income housing is a vital area of demand in housing that has not been well-met by traditional, subsidized affordable housing nor the market. Middle-income workers like healthcare workers, teachers, and nonprofit employees are being priced out of the communities they serve. Heartwood offers income-restricted housing for households making between 80% and 100% of the area median income.

The building features a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural system, an environmentally friendly departure from more traditional concrete-and-steel buildings. Heartwood CLT was sourced from within 400 miles of Seattle from sustainably managed forests and has 1,050 metric tons of carbon dioxide stored in its wood. In addition to offering carbon sequestration, CLT offers superior acoustic, fire, seismic, and thermal performance. Currently, roughly 11% of global greenhouse emissions come from building materials and construction. Heartwood represents an opportunity to build more affordable housing while also promoting environmentally conscious building practices.

Preserving affordable housing

In September 2023, Community Roots broke ground on a comprehensive rehabilitation project at the Devonshire apartments, a 98-year-old brick building located in Belltown. Originally built in 1925, the Devonshire provides 62 apartments affordable to households earning 50% or less of the area median income.

Extensive rehabilitation projects like the work at the Devonshire embody Community Roots’ commitment to not just building new affordable housing, but also preserving existing affordable housing stock in the Seattle area. Over the past 10 years, Community Roots Housing has renovated 259 apartments in nine buildings to ensure that residents can remain in their communities in quality homes.

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“Preserving existing affordable housing is an important supplement to new developments – it prevents displacement, revives existing buildings, and delays carbon emissions resulting from new construction. The rehabilitation of the Devonshire isn’t just about preserving bricks and mortar; it’s about reinvesting into our existing residents and communities to ensure safe and quality affordable homes for generations to come.”

Thea Munchel, Vice President of Real Estate Development and Tax Credit Housing

Connecting residents with resources

In 2023, the Community Roots Resident Services team welcomed a new program manager, provided hundreds of resource referrals, and hosted the department’s first “Spooktacular,” a Halloween-themed event that served as a touchpoint to engage with residents from across the Community Roots portfolio.

Resident spotlight

Che Sehyun, local Corean artist and musician, is a self-taught filmmaker, has served as an art curator for the Seattle Asian Art Muesum, and represented the United States Secretary of State as a cultural ambassador in 2019 to Jordan. However, the experience he says made him a man isn’t anything on his resume – it was becoming a father.

Che and his two children, ages 5 and 6, have been residents of Community Roots Housing since 2018.

“I was trying to find affordable housing and trying to find a good location for my kids – two kids under two,” Che said. “We were actually going to move out of the city to Tacoma because there was some affordable housing down there for artists, and we were nervous about this big change. But then the construction kept getting delayed, and Community Roots opened up [this building], so we ended up staying in Seattle, and it changed our lives in such a beautiful, good way because right after that I got the biggest art opportunity of my life, so far. I’m glad I stayed in the city because if I had moved, I wouldn’t have applied or even known about these things. But that opportunity – I got to serve as a curator. As an artist, that changed my life doing that, and it help launch my career to a certain level.”

Che and his family quickly became part of a close-knit community; neighbors have barbecues on the roof, watch each other’s children, and look out for one another. His kids are close to their school, and the family frequents the nearby parks.

Che shares his love of art and music with his kids. He encourages the children to express their creativity through a variety of mediums, and the family dances, makes music, cooks, plays, and creates art together regularly.

“A lot of really valuable ways of life in society get marginalized, get choked out through the capitalistic logic that values money and profit over people, culture, and history,” Che said. “And it produces this wild, self-justifying force, so things like art and culture and community, things that aren’t money-making get really choked out, you know, so affordable housing is absolutely necessary to have a society that isn’t just simply driven by money.”

Che knows his kids will see Seattle change as he has over the years, but he remains optimistic.

“It’s so beautiful to watch them grow up,” Che said. “It’s like I’m seeing life happen right in front of my eyes. It’s the ultimate garden. There’s a metaphor in Buddhism: they say that in life you’re a gardener and you’re the garden at the same time. So I try to teach my kids similarly. We’re all gardening our family garden, but we’re also the garden that we’re gardening, and we’re growing together. That’s a weed – no. That’s a good seed, yes!”

Rise Together campaign celebrates progress

Community Roots launched the Rise Together capital campaign in 2018 to bolster six equitable development projects across the Seattle area. At the end of 2022, three of the six projects had been completed. In 2023, Pride Place—Rise Together’s fourth project—crossed the finish line and Africatown Plaza—Rise Together’s fifth project—progressed into the final stages of construction.

Who is involved with Rise Together?

Rise Together has raised over $39 million to date toward a $45 million goal. We are still fundraising for the remaining $6 million to complete the campaign and full roster of these hugely impactful projects. If you’re interested in learning how you can support this effort, visit

Completed Rise Together projects

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Liberty Bank Building

Located at 24th & Union on the site of the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, the Liberty Bank Building stands as a living monument to the history and future of Seattle’s pan-African community. The first project in the Rise Together pipeline to be completed, Liberty Bank Building offers 115 affordable homes and affordable commercial space for three small minority-owned businesses.

Boylston Howell

Boylston-Howell family housing rehabilitation

An existing building in Community Roots Housing’s portfolio, the Boylston-Howell offers an increasingly rare resource to our low-income neighbors: two- and three-bedroom family-sized affordable homes in the heart of the city. The Rise Together campaign made a comprehensive rehabilitation possible, preserving this critical resource for decades to come, ensuring that 30 low-income families and individuals can continue to live, work and go to school in Central Seattle.

Byrd Barr Place Fire Station 23 renovation

In their historic home inside Fire Station 23, Byrd Barr Place provides myriad anti-poverty programs and services. By undertaking ownership of the property and a major renovation of their building interior, Byrd Barr Place will ensure that the Firehouse continues to be a historic and cultural anchor for the community for decades to come. Renovations were completed in 2022.

2023 and 2024 Rise Together projects

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Pride Place

Pride Place features 118 affordable homes, retail space for local businesses, and a ground floor community center operated by GenPride. The building incorporates design, programming, and health interventions affirming of LGBTQIA+ elders. Rise Together, guided by campaign partner GenPride, fundraised over $4 million to support the build out of the community center. Pride Place opened its doors in September 2023.

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Africatown Plaza

Nestled in the heart of the Central District, this collaboration between Africatown Community Land Trust and Community Roots Housing will join the Liberty Bank Building as a cultural anchor in a rapidly changing neighborhood. Construction at the Plaza is nearly done, surpassing the 90% completion mark in December 2023. Once complete, the building will offer 126 affordable homes, retail space, and headquarters for Africatown Community Land Trust.

Wchub Community Building Feb2022

White Center Community HUB

White Center Community Development Association, Southwest Youth & Family Services, and Community Roots Housing have worked together in partnership with King County to build a community-driven and designed campus created by and for White Center. Poised to break ground in 2024, the White Center Community HUB will provide 86 affordable homes alongside integrated physical and behavioral health services.

Capitol Hill EcoDistrict joins Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

In October 2023, a beloved sustainability- and equity-focused community program found a new organizational home as the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict relocated to the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

Founded in 2011 by Community Roots Housing, the EcoDistrict began as an effort to address dramatic growth in Seattle by ensuring community priorities were reflected in significant developments changing the neighborhood. For over a decade, Community Roots Housing has served as an incubator for the bold, ambitious work of the EcoDistrict, including programmatic successes such as the Capitol Hill Renter Initiative and the resulting Seattle Renter’s Commission, advocacy for the passage of Mandatory Housing Affordability, an affordable housing transit pass pilot, the creation of the Lowell school-based health center and community hub, and REVIVAL Market Street pop-ups. During its time at Community Roots Housing, the EcoDistrict served as a test lab for innovative, community-led solutions to neighborhood priorities. As the program embarks on its next chapter, it leaves a legacy of expertise in community engagement, research, advocacy, and public life planning for Community Roots Housing to build upon.

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) is an organization with nearly 100 years of experience in direct services and advocacy for the Black and other under-represented communities. Sharply focused on equitable community development, ULMS is ideally poised to support the next chapter of the EcoDistrict.

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“Community Roots Housing is honored to have worked alongside the EcoDistrict and achieved so many common goals, and we eagerly await what they will accomplish next at the Urban League. Community Roots has been the beneficiary of the EcoDistrict and Donna Moodie’s expertise, and we will carry these lessons with us as we continue our work in community development at the intersection of equity and affordable housing.”

Christopher Persons, CEO, Community Roots Housing
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“This next phase of partnership with the Urban League is an opportunity for the EcoDistrict to co-create a future for equitable community development at scale.”

Donna Moodie, Executive Director, Capitol Hill EcoDistrict

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CRH financials

2022 Financial Activities Summary

Community Roots Housing properties saw vacancy rates averaging 7.2% across our portfolio in 2022. At the end of 2022, assets exceeded liabilities by $45.4 million and unrestricted cash totaled $6.9 million. During 2022 there were significant construction and related financing activities. The Boylston-Howell converted to permanent financing in 2022 after construction completed in late 2021. Construction and permanent financing were completed for John Carney in 2022. The Bremer Apartments completed construction in 2022, converting to permanent financing later in 2023. Construction continued throughout 2022 for 13th & Fir and Pride Place. Construction began in 2022 for Heartwood and Africatown. Significant transactions in 2022 included the exit of tax credit investors for the Broadway Crossing apartments and Fremont Solstice apartments.

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Donor List 2023 Formatted V2

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