Housing Hope's History:
A Local Response to Community Need
In 1987, Snohomish County emergency shelter providers served 2,649 individuals and turned away another 3,670 for a total of 6,319 homeless people. Existing shelters were not set up to accept families. Most families were turned away, or else the families were divided up to meet the requirements of the shelters. It was common for teenage boys to be separated from their mothers, and spouses separated from one another. Desperate families - embarrassed at their predicament, depressed at being unable to find a place to stay as a family but still hoping for help - turned to local churches for solace and assistance. The churches quickly discovered that church funds set aside for the occasional family with a specific need had little impact on the growing problem of homelessness. The night or two churches could offer a family in a local motel simply did not address the real need for shelter and a permanent solution and there were too many families to help everyone.
In Snohomish County, the churches first recognized both the size of the problem, and the inability of churches to address the problem alone. The North Snohomish County Council of Churches formed a task force in 1987 to look for ways to address the immediate crisis for families without a place to stay. In the end, the group recommended looking for long-range housing solutions for the homeless and low-income families throughout the County and on nearby Camano Island. The task force proposed formation of a nonprofit agency with the expertise to leverage community resources for real housing solutions. Shirley Morrow chaired the task force; Anita Olson and Barbara Stave are people from Housing Hope's rich history that also served on the task force.
Founding Executive Director
The Founding Board of Directors
(L to R) Todd Morrow, Mae Stork, Amy Youngstrom, Bruce Eklund and Dr. Jon Witte
A Vision of Change and A Grassroots Model of Community Action
The North Snohomish County Council of Churches incorporated Housing Hope on September 30, 1987, in response to the need for a coordinated response to the issues of homelessness and affordable housing in Snohomish County. The agency was envisioned as a housing development corporation. Early actions included recruitment of a board, adoption of a mission and bylaws, selection of a name and a logo, and applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS. Ed Petersen became the Executive Director, initially serving as a volunteer. Follow the link to Past Board for information about the Founding Board —Mae Stork Covert, Bruce Eklund, Todd Morrow, Dr. Jon Witte, Amy Youngstrom and Ed Petersen.
The new board researched housing models across the nation, and began networking throughout the community and with local politicians. From the beginning, the Housing Hope Directors recognized that the provision of housing was not enough in and of itself. Each family facing homelessness was also facing complex personal, familial and societal issues that would require longer term attention. The concept of service enriched housing became integral to the agency mission.
In September 1988, after obtaining a three-year demonstration grant through the National Institute of Mental Health to create supported housing for mentally ill individuals, Ed became full time Executive Director. Ed and a cadre of dedicated volunteers networked with other community members to provide initial financial support and political advocacy for the agency, Connie Niva, Everett City Councilwoman from 1986 to 1990, provided early political support that grew increasingly important to the agency over the years.
Over the years, Housing Hope has involved the community through volunteerism and in governance of the agency. Housing Hope has been especially blessed by loyal Board members, many who have served for nine consecutive years or more. Housing Hope recognizes members of its Board Emeritus for their extraordinary commitment.