December 2016 Newsletter

In This Issue:

Ready (to Work)! Set! Go!

The Ready to Work (RTW) program graduated a record 110+ students from its job training program this year, its second! And, the over 300% increase in graduates from last year’s inaugural year shows no sign of slowing thanks to the amazing instructors from Seattle Central College, South Seattle College and Literacy Source. RTW, a partnership between the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, HomeSight and neighborhood partners Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), Horn of Africa Services, Ethiopian Community Services, the Islamic Center and El Centro de la Raza, was designed for residents who face barriers to learning English and gaining employment. The program combines English Language Learning classes with digital literacy instruction and case management. The goal is to help students gain job-readiness skills and take steps toward economic self-sufficiency.

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Some recent Ready to Work graduates. Photo by Alabastro Photography.

While graduation rates have tripled, job placement rates are rising nearly as quickly as more students than ever are being place in new, local employment. All RTW students confront similar economic challenges and labor market realities. The need to work together in new ways to achieve a “re-visioning” of traditional policies and practices in our education, workforce, social service and community development systems is essential. RTW helps to realize such a vision with an innovative and energized commitment to cross-collaboration, the strengthening of stakeholder partnerships, and the leveraging of mutual resources, knowledge and best practices.

The result can be expanded economic and political democracy for all Seattleites. For more information about the Ready to Work program, click here. If you or someone you know is interested in the program, call Ingrid (206-695-7553 or or Getu (206-805-8950 or for more information. Classes start in January and will be held at the Rainier Beach Library and ACRS.

By Abel Ghirmai, Project Director of Education and Workforce Development

To the Rescue!

Stability Loan Originator, Michael Byers, moonlighting as a cider salesman. Photo courtesy of Michael Byers.

HomeSight's Stability Loan Program assists qualified homeowners who slip through the cracks of other foreclosure mitigation options but have the financial capacity to make their monthly mortgage payment. The most common case encountered is an out-of-work homeowner who falls behind on their payment but is now back at work. Their financial situation is stable and they are able to start making a regular payment again, but have no way to pay the past due amount in the lump sum that is required by their lender. Oftentimes, these homeowners were denied the typical loan modification because when unemployed they couldn’t afford the payment, or when reemployed, the payment was deemed affordable and even sometimes both! In fact, they don’t need a modification at all, what they need is an affordable way to repay the delinquent payments. This is what HomeSight offers. An affordable way to repay delinquent payments.

I started at HomeSight in March 2015 after a few years working for a trustee who processed foreclosures. This experience, along with the time I spent selling mortgage refinances during the boom years meant that I have plenty of karma to work off. A benefit of having a dedicated rescue loan processor is that we are able to expand the program to a variety of homeowners in need. For example, seniors facing foreclosure of their reverse mortgage due to falling behind on property taxes and insurance; children who inherit a parent’s home that is facing property tax foreclosure; as well as, those with creative structuring of affordable repayment plans which used rescue loan funds as down payment. These are just some of the tricky and time intensive situations that the Stability Loan Program has helped to resolve.

These loans do take a lot of work. Work from the housing counselors, me, and most importantly, the homeowners themselves. Despite the name, these loans are only made to households who have demonstrated their stable financial situation. Some of the homeowners I’ve had the honor of working with include a hard-working, self-employed single mother of twins who sought out financial counseling so she could improve her book-keeping skills. She did this in order to develop a profit and loss statement and qualify for a loan. There was also a journeyman electrician who opened a separate savings account, and developed a new budget, in preparation for the seasonal slow-down in his work. There are also countless number of homeowners who found second jobs to pay off their overdue bills and create a better, more stable financial future.

The program has been extended through 2017, so if you find yourself in these, or similar, situations reach out to see if the Stability Loan Program is right for you! I look forward to working with you to avoid foreclosure!

By Michael Byers, Stability Loan Originator

Meet the Home(Sight) Team

With all the hustle and bustle going on in the HomeOwnership Center, you’d think it was earthquake preparedness day. But, no. There are, however, items scattered around the floor and a little commotion in a corner of the office. PRINTER DOWN. If you’ve ever worked in an office you know that can mean trouble.

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Avid Instagrammer, Sage (@sagemariepnw), and Homeownership Center Program Coordinator Renai Mielke. Photo courtesy of Renai Mielke.

At the center of it all though is Renai Mielke. The five foot and some change HomeOwnership Center Program Coordinator. She’s wearing a pair of latex gloves (who wants printer cartridge ink all over themselves) and, as cool as the Alaska air she grew up in, flips this, pushes that and presto. CRISIS AVERTED.

That’s Renai Mielke for you. Kind of a Swiss Army knife of office staff. Incredibly adaptable and extremely invaluable.

So, what’s this Seattle transplant all about? Find out in our newest edition of The Home Team.

The Home Team: Renai Mielke, HomeOwnership Center Program Coordinator

You’re quite the home-made, home-grown, DIY-er. Does that stem from growing up in Alaska?

I’ve been making things forever. My mom used to give me free rein to be crafty, artsy growing up. I was raised by a salmon fisherman. I used to be in 4-H. That mentality followed me into adulthood and I continue to garden, can stuff, cook/bake, make natural beauty products and apparel and accessories.

Speaking of Alaska, what was it like growing up there?

I grew up in Juneau where there are no roads out of town and seafood reigns. My first job was in a fish processing plant. When I left, I had to discard all the clothes I used to wear there because the stench of fish never leaves.

Do you find a lot of similarities between Alaska and Seattle?

There are A LOT of similarities. The people here and there all love their XTRATUF boots (here they’re worn when the weather/situation warrants, in Alaska they’re as common as Danskos), flannel and salmon.

I heard you broke your bum. What’s the story behind (pun intended) that?

Well, I’d only been working at HomeSight for a couple months and was invited to go cross-county skiing with Tom (HomeSight Chief Portfolio Officer and avid skier). The first run we went on was really fun. Flat terrain, nice powdery snow. The second run…not so much. It was icy and slightly downhill. Long story short, I fell (on my bum) about five minutes in. I did, however, continue to ski until it hurt so bad I had to ask Tom to go back to the car.

I just recently retired the donut pillow for my chair (almost a year later).

Sage (Renai’s dog) has an Instagram. How many follower does he have so far? (Also, yes, she’s that type of pet parent).

I created an Instagram for Sage a couple months ago and he currently has over 200 followers. We use a lot of hashtags to show up on people’s searches/feeds. We also do a lot of outdoorsy stuff so I like to use the tag #dogonalog. You should follow him (@sagemariepnw)!

Any fun facts?

I once won 8th place at the Golden North Salmon Derby!

By Michelle Huynh, Communications and Outreach Manager