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March 21, 2005

Nation's First Transitional Housing for Deaf and Deaf-Blind Victims of Domestic Violence Breaks Ground in Seattle

From: Business Wire (press release) - San Francisco,CA,USA - Mar 21, 2005

Nation's First Transitional Housing for Deaf and Deaf-Blind Victims of Domestic Violence Breaks Ground in Seattle; Groundbreaking Ceremony to Be Held 3/28 at 2 p.m.

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 21, 2005--For the first time in the United States, apartments designed specifically for Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will be built.

"A Place of Our Own" will break ground on March 28 in NE Seattle and offer 19 units of affordable housing, integrated program services, and technology for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind population. The groundbreaking will bring together dozens of community leaders, investors, public officials and residents to celebrate the start of this unique and important project.

"A Place of Our Own" will provide Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims access to those who understand them and know how to help. Deaf women suffer the same rate of abuse as hearing women, but without fully accessible housing alternatives, Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims of abuse must often decide between homelessness and living at home with their abuser. For the first time, "A Place of Our Own" offers a new alternative that helps these women, children and families begin lives free of violence.

The project is the result of a collaboration with Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services (ADWAS), a nationally recognized leader with a 19-year track record of providing domestic violence support services to the Deaf and Deaf-Blind communities, and many public and private partners, investors, foundations, companies and individual donors.

"It is so inspiring to see our community's commitment to building 'A Place of Our Own,' said Marilyn J. Smith, ADWAS Executive Director.

The groundbreaking program will begin at 2 p.m. on March 28 at 8623 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle. Featured speakers will include Dr. MJ Bienvenu, president, National Phi Kappa Zeta Board; Dr. Richard Ladner, ADWAS Steering Committee Co-Chair; Ellen Ferguson of the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation; Greg Shaw of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; ADWAS Board Chair Elise Holliday; Marilyn J. Smith, ADWAS Executive Director; and Darcy Vincent, Vice President of Homestead Capital.

Attending will be Cheryl Crazy Bull, president of the Northwest Indian College; Seattle City Council Members Richard Conlin, Tom Rasmussen and Peter Steinbrueck.; Bert Gregory, president and CEO of the architectural firm Mithun; and Mike Ducey, president of the construction company WG Clark.

"It is so gratifying to be breaking ground on such an important project," said Deborah Saweuyer-Parks, president and CEO of Homestead Capital, one of the partners. "The need for this housing is so great. We're excited to be part of providing domestic abuse victims a safe and affordable place to put their lives back together."

Units are scheduled to be available for move-in by spring 2006. The apartments will be open to abused women and their children who earn at or below 30-60 percent of area median income. They will pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

The Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services was founded in 1986 after a group of five Deaf and hearing women and parents of Deaf children, led by Marilyn J. Smith, recognized the need for services for Deaf and Deaf-Blind women when a Deaf woman in Seattle was killed by her husband. She had looked for services, but none were accessible to her. Until 1998, ADWAS was the only domestic violence and sexual assault organization for Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims in the United States. In partnership with the Department of Justice, ADWAS has replicated its model in 14 cities.

Since its founding, ADWAS staff and volunteers have provided services to more than 900 Deaf and Deaf-Blind victims and community education and training to professionals to over 21,000 people. Today, ADWAS is recognized as the national model program by Deaf leaders; hearing domestic violence and sexual assault agencies; local, national and state coalitions; and the U.S. Department of Justice. Its website is

Architects, landscape architects and interior designers from Mithun collaborated to create "A Place of Our Own." The facility was specially designed to meet the access needs of Deaf and Deaf-Blind residents, staff and volunteers incorporating many special features including: TTY systems; light systems to indicate ringing doorbells and telephones, and fire alarms; appliances embossed with Braille; a specially designed security system; and contrasting paint colors and textures needed for signed communication. The property incorporates sustainable building practices that will help ADWAS save money on energy costs including maximizing the use of natural daylight and using ultra-efficient insulation. The building also includes a multi-purpose room, children and youth rooms, a common laundry facility, computer room, library, a community kitchen for the residents, classroom, a quiet garden, and a secure outdoor children's area. The facility is located on a major transit line, an essential element for its Deaf-Blind residents.

On-site resident services provided by ADWAS will include a 24/7 crisis line; crisis intervention; therapy; legal, medical and systems advocacy; children's program; a positive parenting program; and job search and independent living skills training. ADWAS staff advocates will assist residents in securing any additional services needed, such as food banks and healthcare services and more. Non-residents needing ADWAS' services will also be able to obtain them at "A Place of Our Own."

A unique private/public financing arrangement

"A Place of Our Own" is the result of a unique private/public financing arrangement. Approximately $1.6 million of the $7.7 million project is funded through an equity investment from Homestead. The project also is funded by the City of Seattle Office of Housing, Washington State Community Trade and Economic Development Department, the Washington Housing Finance Commission, five King County suburban cities, and the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program sponsored by Sterling Savings Bank.

ADWAS' capital campaign is providing approximately $3.4 million of private funding, including support from: the Sound Families Initiative, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, The Ford Foundation and many others. Two challenge grants, $400,000 (the total award is $500,000) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $250,000 from The Kresge Foundation, now challenge the community to pledge the remaining $504,000 required to complete the campaign. Key Bank is the construction lender.

A Place of Our Own Development Team

-- Equity Financing and Limited Partner: Homestead Capital

-- Developer and General Partner: Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services

-- Development Consultant: Common Ground

-- Architect: Mithun

-- General Contractor: W.G. Clark

-- Property Management: YWCA of King and Snohomish Counties

-- Capital Campaign Consultant: Bateman Consulting LLC

-- Karen L. Bosley, Consultant - Project Manager and Private Grants Writer

Homestead Capital
Robin Doussard, 503-276-1555
Carol Brown, 206-726-1346
Parsons Public Relations
Pam Perry, 206-789-5668

© Business Wire 2005