“We are all one community. We see the same issues. We all want to take action to make a difference.”

Most Rev. Frank R. Schuster, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle; Chair, Catholic Community Services/Archdiocesan Housing Authority Boards of Trustees

Celebrating St. Margaret’s Place

More than 120 residents, staff, and honored guests gathered in the light-filled first floor of St. Margaret’s Place, Catholic Housing Services’ new five-story Permanent Supportive Housing site on the border of Seattle and Shoreline. While the ground level is intended for retail development, one hundred units on the upper floors are now home to individuals and couples who have experienced chronic homelessness in King County.

Following remarks from federal, state, and local funders who had faithfully supported the project from its beginnings in 2018, CCS Director Dan Wise introduced Ramon, one of the first St. Margaret residents to move in last fall.

Ramon described the feeling of moving into his own apartment after years of homelessness. “The day we arrived, the entire fifth floor [a cohort of 20 veterans] was there. The staff was everywhere handing out keys, and we cried out for joy! Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel was in sight!”

Like many at St. Margaret’s, Ramon is already building on his newfound stability. He’s enrolled in community college, earning an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. He’s already determined where to take those skills for a good-paying job. A veteran’s experience underlies a quiet self-confidence: “There will be setbacks; just suck it up and drive on!”

Speaking at the lectern, Ramon was among the first to arrive at St. Margaret’s Place and is eager to build his future.

The Blessing and Dedication

In his welcome, Bishop Frank R. Schuster reminded all those present that faith underlies all that CCS/CHS does for the most vulnerable people in our region. He invoked the Preferential Option for the Poor,” the obligation to see in them the faces of our brothers and sisters.”

Turning to Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Schuster placed St. Margaret’s Place in the context of the thousands of homes created and supported by CCS/CHS and the Archdiocesan Housing Authority. “This is the fruit of your Church, your vision and leadership.”

The Archbishop responded with scripture. ”‘I believe I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the Living.’ We gather to bless a home for one hundred people who may not have had one for a long time. Our starting point of departure is Jesus, and our mission is to continue the journey.”

Many listened closely as the Archbishop told the story of St. Margaret of Castello, canonized by Pope Francis for her devotion to serving others despite being stigmatized by her family and religious community because of her visible disabilities. She found a place among the poor, building community as others saw her caring for others living on the margins of society. Etienne closed by asking those present to honor her spirit, reminding them that “dignity is not earned; it is inherent from the Creator of human life.”

Partners in Creation

Standing with Ramon, Dan, and Bishop Schuster are representatives of our faithful public partners: Laura Mork, Chris Lovings, Pedro Espinoza, and Simon Foster.

Dan Wise introduced some of the elected officials and representatives from federal, state, and county agencies, as well as others who helped to make the dream of home a reality for so many.

According to Shoreline Deputy Mayor Laura Mork, the key to the project’s success was “Partnership and Persistence.” Since the 2018 origin of this ambitious project, numerous challenges posed by COVID, supply-chain barriers, and the unique modular construction of this pilot project required faith and determination from all involved. Chris Lovings, WA State Department of Commerce Engagement Specialist, and Pedro Espinoza, WA State Housing Finance Commissioner, described how state and federal funding worked together to support “this beautiful community.”

Simon Foster, King County Division Director of Housing, Homelessness, and Community Development, built on the Partnership and Persistence theme, adding the dimension of Prayer. Affirming his agency’s commitment to “making sure everyone has a safe, healthy home,” he underlined the critical role CCS/CHS plays by transforming political aspirations into reality. “The providers who are doing the work…the people on the front lines of homelessness…they are faith turned into action.”

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