An HRB home passes from one mother to another. Thanks to a thorough and thoughtful remodel, the newest resident will enjoy a fresh start on the island where she grew up.
The ground-floor unit at Island Home is immaculate. There are sections of new wood floor that have never been stepped on. The cabinets are awaiting their first dishes. The stove has yet to meet a pot. And no one has ever brushed their teeth at the bathroom sink. After three and half months of work, this home is ready to receive its next family—Jasmine Dupont and her 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. After 10 years in the Army, which included deployment to Afghanistan, followed by a divorce and a few hard years, Jasmine has come home to Bainbridge Island. A 2002 graduate of Bainbridge High School, she is happy that her children will attend the schools that gave her the extra care she needed to succeed with a learning disability and allowed her to develop as an athlete (Jasmine was a star on the diving, swim, and water polo teams).
Property Manager, Jessica Campbell, oversaw the renovation at Island Home, a “turn” as it’s called in the industry. Anyone who’s lived through a home improvement project knows how taxing it can be to find reliable and trustworthy contractors and coordinate simultaneous projects. Jes has done four such turns at Island Home this year alone. She’s tired, but she’s not complaining.
The craftsmanship provided by the two primary contractors, Raven Feather and All Floors, was topnotch, and Jes appreciated their enthusiasm for minding the budget of a nonprofit housing provider while not compromising on durability or looks.
But as successful and collegial as these new relationships were, what sustained her through these remodels is something deeper and more emotional. “We’re in the midst of a housing crisis,” said Jes, “which means I spend a lot of my time telling people unfortunate truths about income eligibility requirements, the length of our waitlist, or the lack of affordable housing options county wide. People come to me under difficult circumstances, and it pains me when I can’t fix things for them. Still, there are moments of joy in this work, and the most joyful of which has got to be handing residents keys to an attractive and dignified home in a community that offers so much in terms of schools, safety, and natural beauty.”
Four turns in as many months is highly unusual. Our tenants stay for close to six years on average, more than double the tenancy typical of market-rate multifamily housing and a testament to the housing stability achieved with HRB. We’re proud of that statistic, especially given that low-income households move more frequently, often under duress and without improvement in living conditions (research shows that forced moves are often made to poorer and higher-crime neighborhoods). In fact, children in these families are twice as likely as their wealthier counterparts to experience frequent moves.
Housing stability is our reason for being. It is a precondition for consistent employment, good health, healthy child development, and community engagement. But housing stability that starts with an HRB home needn’t end here too. We rejoice when people leave for something even better, as we did when the previous resident of Jasmine’s new home, also a single mother, found more suitable living arrangements after raising her daughters at Island Home and sending them off to college.
With her key in hand, Jasmine now surveys the empty rooms of her new home, mentally arranging the furniture. The couch could separate the living and dining areas of the great room, she suggests aloud, but it could also face the window so that people can enjoy the view. Fortunately, when it comes time to actually move the furniture, she’ll have the help of family who live nearby. She’s already picked out her own bedroom, assigning the two more private ones to her children. They were excited when Jasmine took them to see the building from the outside, and they’ll only be more so when they can settle into their rooms. No doubt they will leave their marks—thumbtack holes in the freshly painted walls from their artwork, fingerprints on the new fridge, and scuff marks on the floor. We’ll just make sure they’re gone before the next family moves in.