Othello Square

Affordable home ownership units, grounded in community

Providing affordable housing in 68 limited equity co-op home ownership units.

Developed by HomeSight, Othello Square Affordable Homeownership Building is one of four buildings on a multi-block 3.2-acre campus envisioned as a place where the diverse residents of Southeast Seattle can overturn opportunity disparities and displacement, and advance health, housing, and economic opportunities in Rainier Valley.

Our goal is to demonstrate that an equitable affordable housing project can be good for the well-being of the people as well as for the planet. This building is a pilot project in International Living Futures Institute’s Living Building Challenge Framework for Affordable Housing with goals for community placemaking, social equity and healthy materials. The project is also a first round demonstration project in Housing Development Consortium’s Exemplary Building Program with the goal to standardizing ultra-efficient building construction and laying the path for the affordable housing sector to meet the Washington State mandated goal by 2031 to achieve a 70% energy reduction in net energy consumption. Both programs value bold visions to provide affordable and healthy buildings to mitigate the persistent inequalities often present in low-income communities. Environmental achievements of this project include an EUI of 20 ktu/sf/yr, fossil fuel free, and largely red-list free materials. (EUI, or Energy Usage Intensity, measures energy in BTU’s used per sf per year.)

At the heart of SKL’s design is the community. From the community survey, a high percentage of respondents were worried about access to affordable food, and expressed a desire to grow culturally-specific food. We use food to build community between different cultures, and to help pass on inter-generational knowledge. Groups of raised planters for gardening have been integrated into the courtyard, and sun decks with vertical cables for climbing vegetation allow residents to grow fresh produce on site. A central outdoor courtyard promotes a shared community experience.

Location   Seattle, Washington