Affordable Housing for the Central District

For the Capitol Hill Housing leasing department, I conceptualized, designed and developed a leasing packet for an affordable housing development in the Central District called the Liberty Bank Building. The building is a multi-use apartment complex with entirely low-income eligible units and over 2,500 square feet of commercial space for local businesses. It is currently under construction and scheduled to open February 2019.

Background

The Liberty Bank Building is the result of a collective partnership between Africa Town Central District, Byrd Barr Place, Black Community Impact Alliance, the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, local community leaders and founders of the Liberty Bank. This historic project aspires to preserve the legacy of the Liberty Bank, “the first Black-owned bank west of the Mississippi, founded as a community response to redlining and disinvestment in Central Seattle” (libertybankbuilding.org).

Historically, the City government divested from the Central District. This segregated community became a hub for pan-African and migrant community culture. Today it is experiencing rapid urban development, and as rent increases faster than the existing community members are able to afford, they become displaced from their homes.

The Liberty Bank Building is designed to be affordable for everyday people, and continues to support the community for years to come. We wanted to highlight this legacy, preserve the existing identity of the Central District, and steward in a new generation of community engagement.

Project Challenges & Goals

Existing Liberty Bank material, while resourceful, was lengthy and complex, making it impractical for the target audience. A key assignment for this project was to create leasing content that would be understandable and usable for all members of the community—it needed to be accessible.

The leasing packet design was heavily influenced by all these factors. The project goals were:

  • to clarify the eligibility requirements for affordable housing
  • walk applicants through the leasing process and timeline for the Liberty Bank Building
  • affirmatively market to audiences affected by rapid urbanization in the Central District

Design Strategy

The design needed to be tailored to a broad range of audience segments. The primary audience was individuals and families living in the Central District who qualify for affordable housing. The secondary audience was community members and small businesses, particularly of pan-African decent, affected by rapidly rising rent. The third audience, was public officials, agencies, and organization who work in the housing marketplace.

To clarify the eligibility requirements for affordable housing and walk applicants through the leasing process, I neatly organized complex leasing information in a format accessible to a broad audience whom are largely unfamiliar with affordable housing regulation in Seattle, but have a deeply rooted history in the Central District.

Design Solution

The Capitol Hill Housing Foundation hired me to deliver a single leasing packet of the following items:

  • General building information including amenities, photos, and location map
  • Affordable housing process overview
  • Income requirements for applying
  • A timeline of the project development and leasing process
  • Frequently Asked Questions sheet

Design Process

Leasing affordable housing differs from non-subsidized apartments; and the Liberty Bank Building itself poses a unique application process. While focusing on conceptual development with moodboards, typography and color schemes, I worked with the team to categorize, synthesize and tailor content strategically.

The visual design is intuitive and simply explains affordable housing, the application process, and eligibility requirements use accessible language. Visual graphs and tables help applicants interactively determine their eligibility, while a four step visual breakdown walks them through the leasing process.

We sourced historic photos from the Liberty Bank partners, and composed them with photos of the new Liberty Bank Building. I coordinated with the client to render a more diverse group of people in the building renderings. I was sure to prioritize contact information; and developed a Frequently Asked Questions spread. I also included a timeline of key dates for the project construction and leasing process.

Project Impact

The layout itself is a huge improvement from the single word document the partners began with. Including photos of the historic Central District and current community events, drastically improved the packet’s relatability. The use of visual motifs, typographic hierarchy and layout, and brand consistency were driving forces behind achieving project goals.

The partners responded very positively to the leasing packet design. The project delivered on schedule and within budget. Once the Liberty Bank Building partners begin actively marketing, it is anticipated this leasing packet will allow local community members to become more familiar with the affordable housing application process and give them the confidence to inquire about living at the Liberty Bank Building.

The Liberty Bank Building partners utilized the leasing packet to affirmatively market to audiences affected by rapid urbanization. They plan to host local events to build community and pass out these leasing packets to residents in need. The visual design compliments their marketing tactics in a way that communicates the history of the Liberty Bank, expresses the future tone of the Liberty Bank Building, and respects the pan-African community in the Central District.

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