It’s hard to believe that just two years ago 550 Madison Avenue was on the auction block, the community was up in arms, and HRB was doing everything it could to prevent the loss of 13 affordable homes. Today, $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) means HRB is close to what it needs to purchase 13 units at the Wyatt & Madison development, which will occupy the site of the former 550 Madison and replace the original units.

Last month, City Council committed $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Wyatt & Madison development, a partnership between HRB and Madison Avenue Development. Another $1.75 million will go to future affordable housing initiatives.

HRB and housing advocates rejoiced. The acquisition of 13 units in Wyatt & Madison is expected to cost HRB $4 million. The ARPA funds, in addition to those already secured by HRB, meant fundraising for Wyatt & Madison would be nearly complete.

Two years of community activism and the evolution of an unlikely partnership preceded this local victory for affordable housing.

In 2019, the financially strapped Housing Kitsap was looking to sell its 13-unit property at 550 Madison Avenue. The residents launched a passionate campaign, “Save 550 Madison Avenue,” broadcasting their plight on social media, petitioning Housing Kitsap, and ultimately generating widespread support in a community growing increasingly concerned with the lack of affordable housing.

HRB was likewise concerned and made a bid to buy the property and preserve the units in one form or another. Madison Avenue Development (MAD) also submitted a bid. It planned to develop the site, along with its adjoining parcels, as an 80-unit apartment complex.

Subsequent conversations revealed that both parties wanted to preserve the affordable units. HRB and MAD entered into an agreement that would allow HRB to purchase 13 homes at the cost to build and add them to its community land trust, ensuring that they remain affordable in perpetuity to low-income households. To support the purchase, HRB raised $300,000 from the community in just five weeks.

In partnership with Helpline House and the 550 residents, HRB worked to find new homes for those who needed help and offered all first right of refusal for the new units (assuming they are still income eligible). The result will be a mixed-income residential community, addressing the need for housing across the income spectrum.

The expected completion date for Wyatt & Madison is summer 2023. With funding for this project secure, HRB can shift its focus to the next one—developing 15-18 units on a parcel it owns on Ericksen Avenue. The Ericksen Community will be the first HRB development since the completion of Ferncliff Village Phase 2 in 2016 and will build on a precedent of sustainable, affordable, and quality design.