The Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund

By: Marc Bartel, HomeSight’s Communications & Marketing Manager

HomeSight Announces New “Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund” –  A Deferred Loan Product Designed for African American First-Time Homebuyers

(Seattle, WA – December 7, 2021) HomeSight, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Corporation, in partnership with Windermere Real Estate, U.S. Bank, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), recently launched a new loan product to increase purchasing power and help bridge the affordability gap facing Black/African American homebuyers earning between 80% and 120% area median income in Washington state. The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund can give eligible borrows up to $12,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use towards their home’s purchase cost.

Named after legendary Washington State Legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passing of the state’s Open Housing Law barring discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, HomeSight’s new fund hopes to be part of a solution that helps increase Black/African Americans homeownership in the state of Washington.

After working closely with the Smith family, Carl Smith, son of Legislator Sam Smith, said “It’s an honor and a pleasure to have HomeSight use the Sam Smith name for them to pursue equity in home purchases,” Carl continued, “My grandfather instilled in my father that the way to have freedom is to have land and for people in that era, it was freedom.”

According to a report by National Association of Realtors, Black/African American homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than white homebuyers.1 Nationwide, only 43% of Black/African Americans can afford to buy a home versus 63% for Whites.2 In Seattle, the Black/African American homeownership rate is 25.8% compared to 50.9% of White homeowners.3 While in King County, the median income for Black households is $48,075, about half the median income of White households at $94,533.4

Windermere Real Estate is the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S., with over 300 offices and 7,000 agents. Windermere has committed the financial resources of the Windermere Foundation and intends to work with their Agents in the State of Washington to contribute to boost the fund over the next three years.

“After the murder of George Floyd, we got together and decided that it’s morally imperative that we get involved. So, we put Equity and Inclusion as a top priority in the company,” says OB Jacobi, President of Windermere Real Estate. “What we did at Windemere was created a document called Windermere Pillars, focused on effecting change in community and leadership, and one of the pillars was Home Ownership. After meeting with HomeSight, we agreed that the Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund was perfect for us to get behind and push homeownership that can effect change in such a positive way.”

Since 1990, HomeSight has worked to preserve and promote economically and culturally-diverse communities through affordable homeownership, business development, and community advocacy. They believe that communities can only be strong, vibrant, and equitable if homeownership is attainable, cultural anchors can thrive in place, small businesses have access to the knowledge and tools to excel in changing markets, and prosperity is built and shared amongst all members of each unique community.

Nicole Bascomb-Green, VP/Community Affairs Manager, US Bank, NAREB Washington State Chapter President, and a HomeSight board member, has been integral in the creation of the fund. “In my work it’s very important for me that we continue to talk about black homeownership because everyone I knew growing up was a homeowner. Well, we went from having high homeownership numbers during those times and now black homeownership is down to around 28% in Seattle and King County, and that’s just unacceptable,” said Bascomb-Green. She continues, “My work with NAREB is all about democracy in housing, supporting homeownership – particularly black homeownership and other disenfranchised communities, and ensuring we have that capacity to have generational wealth. That’s what this country was built on.”

The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund is made possible through HomeSight funds and private philanthropy. To learn more about the fund and/or make a donation, please visit: https://homesightwa.org/sam-smith-hi-neighbor-homeownership-fund/

(1)(2) A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America (2021), National Association of Realtors. https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-snapshot-of-race-and-home-buyers-in-america-report-02-19-2021.pdf

(3)(4) The Racial Wealth Divide in Seattle, WA (2021), Racial Wealth Divide Prosperity Now. https://prosperitynow.org/sites/default/files/resources/Racial%20Wealth%20Divide_%20Profile_Seattle_FINAL_3.15.21.pdf

Two Consequential Careers Retire

By: Marc Bartel

On August 18th we were able to have our first event since the pandemic struck in March of 2020, and though we were all excited to see our coworkers, friends, and community stakeholders, it was a bittersweet gathering.  This event was in honor of two of HomeSight’s most dedicated and respected, and now retired members, Tony To and Tom Jacobi.

The evening was full of music, food and flowers from Southeast Seattle businesses, and some fantastic speeches from some well-known HomeSight Alumni, Nora Liu, Tanesha Van Leuven, and Dorothy Lengyel. Dorothy, along with her Husband Tom Lattimore, founded HomeSight in 1990 and was the Executive Director for 14 years, where most of those years she worked with Tom and Tony.

Listening to those who stood up to speak about the retirees, it was incredible to hear the impact they had on former and current staff. With an almost combined 60 years at HomeSight, one can only imagine the amount of community members, clients, and stakeholders who have been impacted by the consequential careers of these two gentlemen. Seeing the dedication to our values, mission, and our professional growth from Tom and Tony everyday really will leave an impact on current and former HomeSight staff members.

Tony, who dedicated 28 years to HomeSight and leaves us as the Director Emeritus said, “I am in awe and will be forever grateful to HomeSight for what we have accomplished together. I leave at a time when the staff, leadership, and board are most representative of those we have served so well. I wish HomeSight the very best in its next chapter of creating impact and changing lives for the better.”

Tom, who dedicated 30 years to HomeSight and leaves us as the Chief Portfolio Officer said, “I want to thank my spouse, Jean Kruzich, and my sons for their support and patience when I needed to work evenings and weekends. I also want to thank my many colleagues at HomeSight and other partners I’ve collaborated with. Without them we could not have accomplished so much for affordable homeownership. When I take a step back from the day-to-day work, it’s with great satisfaction that I look at all we do at HomeSight to provide the opportunity for wealth building for low-income home buyers, it’s what really keeps me going!”

Darryl Smith, HomeSight’s Executive Director, spoke on the retirees at the event and ended his words with this: “Tom Jacobi and Tony To, who combine almost 60 years of affordable housing and development expertise, are two heroes who have built a strong foundation and rich legacy on which we, who remain at HomeSight, will continue to carry the torch.”

Congratulations to Tom and Tony on your well-deserved retirement!

 Essential Southeast Seattle Collective’s New Online Marketplace

 Essential Southeast Seattle Collective’s New Online Marketplace

Contact: Maria Vargas, maria@homesightwa.org

The Essential Southeast Seattle Collective was formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Sarah Valenta from HomeSight saw a need for uplifting voices of Southeast Seattle businesses, she reached out to other business district advocates. Quickly the Essential Southeast Seattle Collective was formed between five Southeast Seattle Neighborhood Organizations. They all pooled resources together to create an online directory of local businesses that remained open during the pandemic. The pilot program was funded by a $50,000 Comcast grant and is made possible to execute with additional support from HomeSight, DEI Creative, and the Seattle Office of Economic Development.

Fast forward to June 2021, the Essential SE Seattle Collective is proud to announce its newest launch of the Essential Southeast Seattle Marketplace. The Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that connects the community, small business owners, and resources without a cost to small business owners. The website now, allows customers to place orders online and it allows business owners to have access and control over their business profile. The Essential Southeast Seattle Collective is encouraging business owners in Southeast Seattle to claim their free business profile. For more information on claiming your free business account please go here essentialseseattle.com/sign-up or contact Maria Vargas at maria@homesightwa.org. The marketplace is open to independent entrepreneurs, cultural artisans, performers, brick and mortar retailers, and food and service-based organizations.

Historically, Southeast Seattle neighborhood businesses have been underrepresented and under-resourced. This is why Essential SE Seattle Marketplace strives to provide a one-stop virtual Main Street for our community. Whether you are a business owner, neighbor, or visitor, we work to ensure that you can connect with businesses, customers, and resources.  We envision this site as a vital tool for our community to use in the long term to stay connected in an increasingly digital world.

Brooke Gibson – Agent of Change

Brooke Gibson – Agent of Change

By: Marc Bartel

HomeSight believes a community only thrives when it’s given the opportunities and resources needed to create homeowners, build strong small businesses, and root community anchors. That is why HomeSight strives to provide quality, personalized homeownership opportunities for communities around the state and takes an integrated approach to providing technical assistance and resources to communities with low access to opportunity in Southeast Seattle. That way, communities can build shared prosperity in their unique ways and on their own terms. This is our vision for Washingtonians, and sometimes, when our vision comes to life, we are returned with more than the satisfaction.

In December of 2020, we brought on Brooke Gibson as a Loan Originator, but this wasn’t the first time we had met Brooke. A couple years prior, Brooke came to us to get a preapproval to become a first-time homebuyer. It wasn’t long before she met with our Sr. Loan Originator, Ali, went through the homebuying process, and accomplished her “dream of becoming a homeowner,” says Brooke.

Brooke joined HomeSight with an impressive resume that included working for Arizona State University as the Leading Administrative Coordinator in the School of Technology and Innovation graduate office, then returned to Seattle and began to work for the University of Washington for the Department of Microbiology. From there, she moved over to work for the General Internal Medicine Program where she supported the Medical Director and over 20 nationally recognized faculty members.

In 2012, Brooke wanted to further her education – she enrolled as a full-time student at Seattle University, Albers School of Business and in 2015 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, with a Major in Business Economics and a minor in International Economic Development.

“My final year inspired to me to look beyond how market conditions impact businesses to the shock they have on the most vulnerable members of society,” says Brooke. “Seattle University provided me with a Jesuit education that inspired me to continue to strive for excellence, through the pursuit of social justice for others and in helping to further shape me into an agent of change.”

Shortly after settling into her new home with her family, Brooke decided that she wanted to change her career. She wanted to utilize her degree in economics in a more meaningful way. Motivated by HomeSight’s mission, and her own experience in the home buying process, Brooke passed her Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) and reached out to HomeSight to see if there was a Loan Originator position available.

“I wanted to help other people have a sense of security through homeownership and a path towards generational wealth. I’m from Seattle and grew up in the Columbia City neighborhood. I worked for numerous small business owners in my childhood neighborhood along with the City of Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, so, it was only fitting that I would return to my neighborhood.”

We are honored that Brooke chose HomeSight and our mission as she sought out to be an agent of change in her pursuit of social justice, security through homeownership, and a path towards generational wealth for others – something we strongly stand for.

HomeSight Foreclosure Prevention Programs for Pierce & King Counties

By: Marc Bartel & Tom Jacobi

A home is often a family’s most valuable possession. A home provides a sense of security, where love, laugh, happiness and growth prevail. It’s where we (usually) host family dinners, reunions, holidays, parties, or the Seahawks quest for a Super Bowl on a big screen. A home is comfort. And preventing the avoidable loss of that comfort due to foreclosure at an already, unprecedented time, is currently a program now offered by HomeSight.

King County Veterans & Active Military Foreclosure Prevention Loan Program

HomeSight has received $500,000 grant from King County to provide foreclosure prevention loans to Veteran’s and Active Military members facing foreclosure. Households who are behind on their mortgage, property taxes or condo dues can receive a deferred loan if they meet program guidelines.  The program will provide a loan with payments deferred for 30 years at 2% simple interest to homeowners who can resume future payments after receiving this loan.

“I am excited to hear of this grant from King County has been awarded to HomeSight,” says Linh Thai, City Impact Manager at The Mission Continues, a movement that empowers veterans to continue their service, and empowers communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness to generate visible impact.

Thai continues, “As a leader in the veteran service and advocacy communities for nearly a decade, as well as a community advocate in Seattle in social equity issues, I strongly believe that HomeSight has a stellar record of equitable community development and a model of servant leadership, something that veterans and military service members identify with.  In this COVID-19 environment, I urge veterans who own a home to explore and engage with HomeSight, and other trusted organizations, to utilize this program.”


City of Seattle Foreclosure Prevention Loan Program

HomeSight has been awarded $350,000 in new funds to supplement our current City of Seattle foreclosure prevention program. This program can assist income qualified homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, property taxes or condo dues.  This program will provide a loan up to $30,000 with payments deferred for 30 years at 2% simple interest to homeowners who can resume future payments after receiving this loan.

Pierce County Homeowners Received Mortgage Assistance / Foreclosure Prevention Relief in 2020

HomeSight was pleased to partner with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and HUD approved housing counseling agencies to provide over $470,000 in mortgage assistance grants to 72 homeowners facing housing instability due to the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Pierce County.  Funded by the federal CARES Act, HomeSight provided up to $8,250 in mortgage payment assistance. If more funds become available from the Federal government, we hope to continue this partnership in 2021.

For more information on these programs, or to start the application process, visit www.homesightwa.org/foreclosure-prevention-programs

These programs are modeled on HomeSight’s successful statewide homeowner stability foreclosure prevention program which provided over $6 million in loans helping over 280 families keep their home during the great recession.

“We are thrilled to be the facilitator of these programs,” says Darryl Smith, Executive Director of HomeSight. “Preventing avoidable foreclosures helps keep families in their homes and preserves the very communities we live, work, and play in.”

Since 1990, HomeSight has worked to preserve and promote economically and culturally diverse communities through affordable homeownership, business development, and community advocacy. We believe that communities can only be strong, vibrant, and equitable if homeownership is attainable, cultural anchors can thrive in place, small businesses and homeowners have access to the knowledge and tools to excel in changing markets, and prosperity is built and shared amongst all members of each unique community.

Plate of Nations Extends its 10th Annual Event

By: Maria Vargas

Plate of Nations was originally scheduled for two weeks in the Spring but was canceled amid the Governor’s shutdown order in March due to COVID-19. During that time, we saw many businesses all over the state close their doors and others struggle to stay. This fall, Plate of Nations has been reimagined to help support the businesses and the families behind them.

This year, for the 10th annual Plate of Nations, they have partnered with Restaurant Week. Seattle Restaurant Week is a promotional event that runs every year in the Fall and Spring. Over 165 restaurants participate in the Pacific Northwest. The event allows diners to sample special menus from local establishments at a great price! Seattle Restaurant Week is a celebration of food across the Pacific Northwest. This year Seattle Restaurant Week will not last a week but instead almost an entire month!  It launched on October 25th and will continue until November.

Understandably not everyone is comfortable dining in like previous years, but do not let that stop you from joining the fun!  Multiple restaurants are offering take-out and delivery services. For a complete list of restaurants participating in Seattle Restaurant Week click  . While you are at it, explore the great filters Seattle Restaurant Week has provided!

Just recently Plate of Nations released a promotional video featuring a few Plate of Nations restaurants to encourage the community to participate and share a photo of their delicious dish on Instagram with the hashtag #2020PON. Check it out here! As you can see in the video Southeast Seattle is a diverse and resilient community, something Plate of Nations aims to celebrate year after. The independently owned and operated restaurants will offer a lunch plate for $20 and a dinner plate for $35, they can also offer a three-course meal like Seattle Restaurant Week has required previous years. Restaurants can also choose to offer an all-day option at either price point. The style of food choices varies by restaurant, to find out more about the special menus explore the Plate of Nations website.

Another change this fall is participation is free to restaurants this year. This allows restaurants to get involved regardless of their ability to pay. The fee is and that is something many small businesses cannot afford during this pandemic. While both organizations are unsure, they will continue this arrangement into next year, Seattle Restaurant Week and Plate of Nations are really putting businesses first this Fall.

While many things have changed this year, community has not. Sarah Valenta, Community and Business Development Manager at HomeSight says, “Each of the meals that come from the restaurants are meant to bring people together to share the plate. So, its community building as well as supporting the restaurant.” This is a great way to show support to the many businesses struggling during this time. Don’t forget to share your picture with Plate of Nations using #2020PON!


OCT 25 – NOV 22

Participating Plate of Nation Restaurants:

      • Amy’s Merkato located in Hillman City
      • Bananas Grill located in Rainier Vista
      • Bang Bang Kitchen located in Othello
      • Buddha Bruddah located in Mt. Baker
      • Café Ibex located in Mt. Baker
      • Café Red located in Othello
      • Hoang Lan located in Othello
      • Kaffa Coffee located in Rainier Beach
      • Little Chengdu located in Mt. Baker
      • Nikos Gryos located in Beacon Hill
      • Othello Wok Teriyaki located in Othello
      • Qeerroo located in Rainier Beach
      • Rainier Restaurant located in Brighton
      • Tacos Street located in Othello
      • Tacos Chukis located in Beacon Hill
      • The Comfort Zone located in Columbia City
      • The Original Philly’s located in Mt. Baker
      • Union Bar & Restaurant located Rainier Beach