Mercy Magnuson Place: Repurposing a Former Navy Barracks

Helping to combat homelessness by providing affordable housing to veterans in the greater Seattle area

This story is highlighted in Capital One’s 2019-2020 Corporate Social Responsibility report. To view the full report, click here.

Mercy Magnuson Place sits in the Sand Point neighborhood in Northeast Seattle, directly across Lake Washington from Kirkland, where U.S. Navy warships were built during World War II. The building’s 148 affordable apartment units, which began leasing in the Spring of 2019, are redeveloped Naval Barracks. This connection is meaningful for the formerly unhoused veterans who call Mercy Magnuson Place home.  

In just its first full year of operation, Mercy Magnuson has helped to combat homelessness in King County, specifically by providing affordable housing to veterans in the area. This development has repurposed the storied land it operates on to function as a safe and empowering community for veterans facing housing insecurity in the Pacific Northwest. In August 2020, it was recognized with the Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Historic Preservation category for the 2020 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards competition, a nod to the creative way that the development links the past with the present.

Such affordable housing developments are crucial to sheltering the homeless population in Seattle — a city that has seen housing insecurity rise by more than 2,000 individuals over the past decade.

According to All Home, a Seattle based non-profit that works to decrease the occurrence and duration of homelessness in Seattle and King County, there were 11,751 people experiencing insecure housing situations in the area during a point-in-time count that took place at the end of January 2020.

Despite that increase in homelessness in the region, affordable housing communities like Mercy Magnuson Place have helped bring the number of homeless veterans in Seattle down to 813 individuals in 2020 — a drop of more than 500 unsheltered veterans since 2017.

“Housing insecurity is intractable, both in the Northwest and across the country, so when we have the opportunity to positively impact a community and supports veterans we’re going to jump at that,” says Desiree Francis, head of Community Finance at Capital One. “The Tax Credit Excellence Award is a well-deserved acknowledgement of the effort that it took Mercy Housing to bring this community to life. We were thrilled to have played a part.”

Living on this notable land sparks inspiration for one 49-year-old formerly unhoused Army veteran. Since being referred to Mercy Magnuson by the Seattle Veteran’s Affairs office, he says that he couldn’t be happier with both his apartment and its location. “I love walking the grounds,” he says. “I get to walk on these grounds where other soldiers have actually served. It’s humbling.”

In addition to housing, Mercy Magnuson Place offers residents a suite of services to make sure that they’re able to stay successfully housed. There are on-site resident services staff to organize events for school aged children and to organize health and wellness workshops and other community programs as well. Many of the activities and services are centered around community, a key part of the mission for its developer, Mercy Housing, and a key reason that Capital One got involved.

“We are grateful to our many partners who helped us to welcome all the new residents to Northeast Seattle,” says Bill Rumpf, president of Mercy Housing Northwest. “It was truly a neighborhood effort.”

But before the apartments were constructed, when a potential tax code change threatened plans, David Musial, a Capital Officer on Capital One’s Community Finance team, stepped in to help.

“To the community, these buildings are more than just four walls and a roof. There are history and personal connections,” Musial says. “I jumped at the opportunity to help Mercy Housing.”

Capital One provided $13.5 million in construction period financing and $34.6 million in tax credit equity for the building’s development. This allowed the development to move into the construction phase and sped it toward its opening.

“It takes real partnerships to make affordable housing work and that was certainly the case here,” says Musial. “Everyone involved at Capital One was committed to doing our part to help make this development a reality.”

Capital One is on a mission to change banking for good. To be authentic and impactful, our goals for our customers, associates and our communities must be clearly linked. Our 2019-2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report illustrates this commitment. Learn more about Capital One’s commitments, here

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