Acting Capitol Hill Housing CEO Jill Fleming went from locking down a major affordable housing development around the Capitol Hill light rail station early Thursday, to cheering on $128,000 in pledges during the organization’s annual Omnivorous gastronomic fundraiser later that night.
Twenty-seven Capitol Hill restaurants, breweries, distilleries and edibles shops participated in this year’s event, providing ticket holders with unlimited food and drink inside The Summit on Sept. 29. It was tight quarters this year, with the venue at capacity for its second year in a row, according to CHH.
Fleming, who is balancing her chief financial officer hat while filling in for CEO Chris Persons while he’s on sabbatical, thanked attendees ahead of the Raising the Beet fundraiser pledge.
“The other thing that happened today that was a really big deal is, today I went downtown and I signed the purchase and sale agreement with Sound Transit on the light rail station known as B-North,” Fleming said, “where we’re going to build 110 units of affordable housing.”
Fleming thanked sponsors and Omnivorous organizers, as well as the attendees, whose pledges will go toward supporting CHH programs and services.
“The funds from our Omnivorous event support the work at the core of our mission, connecting residents to the community around them by providing job coaching, rental assistance and back-to-school supplies,” she said. “We’re here so a parent does not have to choose between paying the rent and feeding the family.”
Plum Bistro owner Makini Howell thanked the contributing eateries.
“So, we all know that affordable housing is super important,” she said, “especially for the backbone of our restaurants, which are the cooks, the dishwashers, the servers. We should be able to live where we work. Capitol Hill is becoming really, really expensive, and that’s not okay.”
Howell said she spent last year working with Stevie Wonder while he was on tour.
“Even after I got back from doing that,” she said, “I can’t afford to live here, so we need to make sure that we bring the prices down.”
Howell said she’s spent the last decade in the same apartment in Madrona.
CHH resident of the Lincoln Court Apartments Aaron Olson shared his story, having moved into his unit in winter 2014, after 10 months traveling abroad as part of his University of Washington graduate program.
“When I came back, I was homeless, I was unemployed and I didn’t know where I was going to go.”
Olson said one of his friends was a CHH site manager, who recommended he apply for housing with the public corporation. He was accepted, he said, but then found out his application for unemployment had been denied. Olson said his site manager connected him with resources for food and rental services, and later with credit counseling and job assistance through a CHH program that helps residents write resumes and send out job applications.
Emcee Kevin Joyce kept the laughs and beets up during the pledge portion of the event, with a goal of making $120,000. The ending total was $128,100. Adding in the ticket sales, at $85 a pop, Omnivorous raised more than $185,000.