It all started in 1995
The Brighton, with its 123 apartments, penthouse community space, five acre property, continues to be a valuable resource especially to seniors and the community at large. It offers the lowest rents in the city focused on moderate to low income, independent living, seniors and their families. It has unusually spacious units, in-house resident run activities, a richly diverse resident population, and a spirit of ownership that is uncommon in that age group. It is an oasis, in an area that is experiencing growing rent rates, gentrification, urban pressures, and devaluing senior support. The average tenure at The Brighton is eight years with many residents residing for more than 15 years. There is a long waiting list for residency. It represents the best of Rainier Valley's rich history, while maintaining its view to the future.
"In the late 1990's, many Southeast Seattle resident realized that elderly friends and neighbors who wished to move to senior housing found minimal options in the area and were forced to leave their community. This inspired our major effort to create a first-class facility for seniors and their families in the Rainier Valley."
SSSF Cofounder and Baard Member
The Southeast Seattle Senior Foundation (SSSF) was created in 1995, to focus on the need for quality senior housing in the Rainier Valley. Volunteers rallied together to create SSSF, a nonprofit organization, and raise funds to purchase The Brighton Apartments. In July, 1999, after eighteen months of intensive fundraising and negotiations, raising one million dollars, the purchase of the apartment complex was finalized. Securing The Brighton brought the Foundation's dream of a senior campus to a reality.
The apartment complex was run down, uninviting, dangerous, located in an area of high crime and drug use, but it is in the heart of the Valley, next door to the local senior center. It was a strategic decision, but with a myriad of challenges.
Staff was hired, current residents were vetted, and the building was gradually transformed. 28,000 volunteer hours enabled all common areas to be upgraded including the roof, parking lot, walkways, and wheelchair accessible pea patch. The building was cleaned, repaired, and painted. Criminal incidents decreased by a reported 30%. The Brighton was gradually being transformed from a blight in the community to a valuable residence and enhancement.
The Board of Directors and Volunteers
Rental rates in the Seattle area have grown more than 11% per year for the last seven years.
Gentrification in the Rainier Valley has altered the ethnic make up of the area in recent years, but The Brighton has been able to retain the fabric of the community with residents from nations all over the world, speaking six languages.
The average age of residents is around 70 years of age, with a range of 2 to 99. Multi-generations live together; currently one home includes four generations!
The Brighton is a green, low-carbon footprint facility.
Interested residents plan most of the activities for the community.
An in-house clinic holds office hours once a week to promote resident health and wellness, including health checks, lectures, trainings, luncheons, and cooking classes.
The raised beds, affectionately known as The Brighton Farm, offers residents the opportunity to grow organic fruits and vegetables. Fruit from trees on the grounds are readily available to tenants.
Transgenerational living is encouraged and enhanced by policies and in house activities.
Breaking Ground, July 1999
Having some fun.