What is the Emergency Rent Relief Fund?
In response to the pandemic, and thanks to a generous matching gift from the Raynier Foundation, Historic Seattle launched its Emergency Rent Relief Fund in October 2020. Generous donors contributed more than $221,000. This relief was distributed in four rounds, supporting 8 individuals and organizations in January, 10 in March, 9 in May, and 7 in July. 100% of applicants have received full or partial relief.
The people who have received rent relief are deeply grateful to the donors who made it possible. Here’s what some have shared about the positive impact of rent relief:
“Since 2007, we have leased the Chapel at Good Shepherd Center to present the Wayward Music Series of concerts. Of course, COVID shut that down, at which point we pivoted to commissioning local musicians to record audio streaming programs called Wayward in Limbo. We were able to use the Chapel for recording some of those, but for the most part we were paying rent for a big room we couldn’t really use, and there was no income from concerts to help. We are very grateful for the Emergency Rent Relief grant that helped make it possible for us to continue to support artists in the creation of new work. The Chapel is now open again for the time being, and we are back to presenting live concerts.”
A letter from Julie
To the Wonderful Donors,
Thank you to the generous donors that have provided rent relief for those of us who are paying rent at Historic Seattle’s Good Shepherd property, during this highly unusual global situation.
It has been a fortuitous situation for me since as a singer, performer and entertainer I was suddenly no longer working. Even my part-time back up job as a substitute assistant in the schools ended during the pandemic.
I am grateful to have been found eligible to apply for rent relief and am now receiving it.
It allows me to perform and record here in my apartment, during this Pandemic period, rather than stop singing and entertaining, I produce my own, one woman, upbeat, humorous, positive variety show on Facebook live, entitled The Pandemic Pick Me Up.
This half hour show, surprisingly took off and happily reaches many people with some significant success. The rent relief has helped provided more time to put together a show, and keep my foot in the door of show biz, while connecting with my fans, friends and the music world.
I am currently finishing my forthcoming memoir, which I also read excerpts from on the Facebook platform. Again, the Rent Relief has been instrumental in this happening.
Living and creating in such an exquisite property has contributed to producing several works of music, which is my specialty, while living surrounded in the bucolic paradise, of the beautiful grounds, the secure and quiet building, and living around other hard working, respectful artists.
I am feeling more involved with the Good Shepherd property by helping with some gardening in the summer.
Thank you for this extraordinary gift of rent relief.
It is well appreciated and utilized.
Yours very truly,
Julie Cascioppo | www.juliesings.com
“Pongo Poetry Project engages youth in writing poetry to inspire healing from traumatic experiences. Thanks to rent relief, Pongo is able to navigate this period of uncertainty, while continuing to serve youth in crisis with our effective therapeutic arts programming.
We’ve included this piece of poetry, authored by one of our youth writers, as evidence of the work that this rent relief allows us to continue doing. This poem captures the pain that Pongo youth authors so often endure, and the resilience they demonstrate in the face of it.
BROKEN INTO PIECES
by an African American student writing with Pongo
I was hurt
I don’t know what to do
I can feel it in my soul
God, I can feel it through you
There’s this battle
that I’m fighting
This is exactly why I’m writing
I was misunderstood
I was misused
I was hurt
I was abused
I was beaten till I was black and blue
Nobody ever understood
what I was going through
I feel that’s all I really cared about
Was just not being someone’s toy
Not being someone that could always be hurt
Not knowing who I am
is what affects me now
I gotta step up to be a queen
and put on my crown
It’s a thorn crown
That’s why God died on the cross
because he knew that people in his nation
would be lost
I don’t know what to say
At times, I don’t know what to feel
I love writing
I love being myself
I love being a queen
and it’s not all about wealth
You don’t have to have money to care
You have to have a heart to be who you are
This is why I’ve gotten so far
This is why I’m cared for
and that is where this ends
Dedicated to my brothers”
(A tenant at one of our affordable housing properties)
“Rent relief has had such a positive impact for me. I was greatly reduced in hours at my place of employment in March of 2020 and then subsequently laid off that September as my position was dissolved. Since March of last year, I’ve had to dig into my saving quite a bit to keep up on rent, bills, and just to stay afloat during the pandemic. After being laid off in September, I had to start using even more of my savings as I’m only currently receiving unemployment insurance. Rent relief has made it so I don’t have to dig even further into my limited savings to get by for the next couple months and also not have to worry about getting behind on bills and the such. I can not put into words how grateful I am for the help in this time of need as it has been able to lift some of the weight from the worries I’ve had for the future off my shoulders.”
Black Power Unlimited
(Washington Hall Anchor Partner)
“Black Power Unlimited has appreciated the efforts shared by Historic Seattle. Without it, the pandemic’s effects would have surely cut short our time as a safe space for expression for the historically black and brown community in the Central District. With no community activity to support the rental programs, there has been no dependable income to sustain our space in Washington Hall. The Rent Relief Program has made it possible to ‘ride out’ the drought of programs and income. It is acknowledged and appreciated.”
(affordable housing tenant, location withheld to honor anonymity)
“The emergency rent relief funding was a blessing for my family and I. I am ride share driver and since the stay at home order was put into effect in Washington there has been a huge decrease in riders. As the main source of income for my family it’s been very hard , just barely keeping our heads above water. Without rent relief, we would have been behind on our rent payment setting us back even more. Rent relief truly was a blessing for us and really took a lot of worry off my shoulders and for that I am very thankful!!”
(location withheld to honor anonymity)
“Our office provides mental health services in the Seattle area. Due to the pandemic, our doors were shuttered in March 2020. For the past year, we have been able to conduct some telehealth work but our regular flow of services has not occurred. This has taken a significant toll on our business. Since we have been unable to use our office for the past year, we were pleased to receive relief that covered almost two months of our rent. It is a struggle to keep afloat an expensive (empty) downtown Seattle office. Thanks to rent relief, we can divert some funds to new technology allowing telehealth assessments to vulnerable populations, including the incarcerated. Our business greatly appreciates the assistance that was provided by the Emergency Rent Relief!”
To continue to support our tenants and anchor partners in this challenging time: give the gift of rent relief.
These impact stories will be updated as additional rounds of funding are distributed.
*We honor the privacy of our tenants and anchor partners. Not all relief recipients are able to provide stories or share their names.
Images: Pongo Poetry Project: Pongo mentor Arlene Naganawa at a poetry reading; Black Power Unlimited: Pre-pandemic photo of Python Mini Camp put on by EchoX at Washington Hall