Mercy Housing asked a community in Seattle, WA, how can we support families in the community? We listened, and together, we created Mercy Magnuson Place. Families earning low incomes wanted opportunity, the same opportunities that we all need to be successful and healthy — stable housing, education, and healthcare — the pillars of vibrant communities.
Nestled in one of Seattle’s largest parks, Mercy Magnuson Place is a 148-home community that opened in the spring of 2019. Our nonprofit partners are helping us to offer more than a place to live; it’s a place to thrive, a place to call home. Denise Louie Education Center offers six classrooms onsite for children and parents to access childcare, while Neighborcare Health teaches health education and preventative care. The Nomi B Community Room (named in honor of the Brettler family) has innovative Out-of-School Time programs, financial well-being workshops, health and wellness classes, and community activities. Resident families are close to walking trails, athletic fields, playgrounds, and Lake Washington’s beaches, but converting barracks into family homes wasn’t a walk in the park.
Opportunity Knocked, Residents Answered
Mercy Magnuson Place was once Sand Point Naval Air Station Building 9 barracks and had been sitting vacant for 20 years. Converting this historical site into homes — ‘adaptive reuse’ — took precious care to refurbish as Mercy Housing wanted to preserve the storied character of these beautiful buildings while meeting the needs of families. During the planning process, Mercy Housing knew that access to food was a priority for future residents.
The University District Food Bank, YMCA, Solid Ground, and Mercy Housing Northwest partnered to make sure that residents had healthy food. Together, we launched the Magnuson Park Community Food Pantry. Both residents and community members from the surrounding neighborhood can stop by for this weekly pop-up food pantry.
Ida, a Mercy Magnuson Place resident, says, “I like the fact that they have a cooking demonstration using food from the pantry. A lot of people don’t know how to cook some of the food they receive from the pantry. The recipes help a lot!”
What’s vital to this community’s continued success is how integrated the greater Seattle community is with what’s happening onsite. In just five months of being open, volunteers stacked up 400 hours of service at the food pantry alone.
Lisa has been a community volunteer who has been enjoying getting involved too. “With all the stress and negativity in the world, it is great to be part of something positive — people helping each other.”
A guest chef even provides monthly cooking and canning demonstrations while monthly family meal nights are an opportunity for everyone to get to know their neighbors. Volunteers help with homework clubs, back-to-school events, and field trips to university campuses. Opportunities are bountiful at Mercy Magnuson Place. It took an incredible amount of planning and preparing, but it’s all been worth it. What’s making it a success are the partnerships. Residents, volunteers, and staff work together to find solutions as one community.
With all the stress and negativity in the world, it is great to be part of something positive — people helping each other.
— Lisa, Community Member