We all know just how dire Seattle’s housing affordability crisis is––because we all see it, in some form or another, every day. We see our neighbors moving further away from Seattle, in search of cheaper rents. As housing costs soar, we see people who once had homes, now living without them. Many of us are left wondering––what, if anything, can we can do to change the direction we’re headed?
A year and a half ago, members of Tech 4 Housing were grappling with how to move the needle on these issues. As a grassroots nonprofit advocacy group that engages the tech sector on issues of housing and homelessness, we found ways to speak up for impactful policy change––but what if we could create a vehicle for direct investment to help alleviate our affordability crisis? Using Regulation Crowdfunding, could we see a reality where Seattle could literally crowdfund more affordable housing?
We found a partner in Bellwether Housing, Seattle’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing. Together, we launched the Building Opportunity Fund, which will raise $4.5 million in investment dollars to help build 750 affordable homes over the next three years––enough to house roughly 2400 people.
Investors in Bellwether’s Building Opportunity fund get a modest return annually and the principal investment returned in full when the investment matures. This investment will provide Bellwether with a stable, low-cost source of capital that it can use to accelerate its work at a time when demand for affordable units is far outstripping supply.
But an investment in Building Opportunity is more than just the interest earned––it’s an investment in building a stronger community fabric that’s inclusive of all income levels.
As a relative newcomer to Seattle, I knew even before I landed in this city that there were some tough challenges yet to be solved. Complex, structural problems like housing and homelessness are perhaps some of the toughest of all––and are dire enough that they require all of us to bring what we can to the table and ask: ‘how can I help?’ For many of us who are fortunate enough to find prosperity here, often times that privilege is our own dollars––and recognizing that our money can do a lot of good for others if invested in the right places.
For me, investing in the Building Opportunity fund was a no-brainer. At the root of much of privilege and opportunity is having a stable place to call home––and this investment is immensely powerful in that it goes beyond simply creating returns for its investor. Rather, this investment passes along the privilege of stable, affordable housing––the root of what opportunity is built on––back to our very own community.
At Bellwether and Tech 4 Housing, we believe housing is a right. Living in this beautiful city shouldn’t just be a privilege for the well-off. It ought to be inclusive of everyone that helps Seattle thrive, no matter their role or income level. Our investments will build homes for the people who care for our elders and our children, people serving us in our hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores; artists and musicians, social workers, and families transitioning out of homelessness––people that keep our city’s ecosystem thriving. People that deserve to have a place here.
Join me and others in investing in a stronger, more affordable Seattle for all. Visit Bellwether’s Wefunder page and invest in Building Opportunity today.