The Theodora, located at 6559 35th Ave NE, is a large apartment building for low-income seniors with a range of need for supportive services. The property has been owned by Volunteers of America (VOA) since 1914. VOA is a private nonprofit association that is nationally recognized for its work in affordable housing and the provision of human services. The existing building was built in 1965 and has 114 units, including 22 that receive project-based Section 8 vouchers. Recently, VOA announced their intention to sell the Theodora to Goodman Real Estate (GRE), a for-profit development company. The sale of the property to GRE makes it highly unlikely that a private developer will continue to offer affordable rents to the current residents.
The residents who remain in the Theodora have organized the Theodora Rescue Committee (www.savethetheodora.wordpress.com) with the help of the Tenants Union to petition both VOA and GRE to retain the affordability of the apartments. Residents are asking that VOA withdraw from the purchase and sale agreement and seek a nonprofit provider of low-income housing to preserve the building for low-income tenants. Additionally, they are asking that VOA utilize their existing HUD mortgage to trigger vouchers for Theodora tenants whose rents are regulated by the mortgage.
The Theodora Rescue Committee is asking community members to visit their website and sign their on-line petition. A rally is planned for March 11th from 12 to 2 pm at Goodman Real Estate’s corporate office, Pier 70, 2801 Alaskan Way in Seattle, just south of the Olympic Sculpture Park. More information here and here.
On March 4th, the Board of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA) voted to send a letter to VOA urging that organization to withdraw from its agreement with GRE and transfer the property instead to a nonprofit organization. RBCA noted that the Theodora’s 114 units represent over 20% of the existing HUD Section 202 housing units in the entire City of Seattle, and that once lost would likely never be replaced. See RBCA’s letter to VOA below.
March 7, 2014
Michael King, President and CEO
Volunteers of America
1660 Duke Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
RE: Theodora Purchase of Sale Agreement
Dear Mr. King:
On behalf of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA), I am writing to express our concern with the proposed sale of the Theodora property to Goodman Real Estate (GRE). The site which the Theodora occupies has served people in need in our community for over 100 years and is home to seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. The Volunteers of America (VOA) have been serving low income individuals and families at that site for the past five decades. The sale of the property to GRE makes it highly unlikely that a private developer will continue to offer affordable rents to the current residents.
We urge the Volunteers of America to withdraw from the purchase and sale agreement to Goodman Real Estate and to transfer the Theodora to a non-profit organization that will preserve the building for low income tenants. The Theodora’s 114 units represent over 20% of the existing HUD Section 202 housing units in the entire City of Seattle. 22 of those Theodora units are project-based Section 8, serving the most vulnerable tenants. Due to the critical shortage of low income rental units, it is especially important for those in the non-profit housing sector to take every step possible to preserve buildings under their ownership that serve residents earning below 50% Area Median Income (AMI).
On behalf of the residents remaining at the Theodora who have formed the Theodora Rescue Committee, RBCA requests that you pursue alternatives to maintain their housing at levels affordable to current tenants. We understand that a private developer like GRE may offer more compensation to VOA for this property, but we believe that your organization’s mission to help the most vulnerable, and your responsibility to those tenants who have relied on the Theodora, requires VOA to make a concerted effort to protect their interests and assure the continuation of the Theodora’s legacy.
We look forward to your response and your willingness to help keep the Theodora’s residents from losing their homes.
Seattle City Council
Mayor Ed Murray
Dawn Batts, Board Chair – Volunteers of America
Jack Jones, Senior Asset Manager – Volunteers of America
Phil Smith, President and CEO, Volunteers of America of Western WA
Theodora Rescue Committee