The multi-story construction project on the northwest corner of Martin Way and Pattison Street NE is taking shape. Thanks to Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and its partners, our community is gaining much needed housing for those most in need. Phase 2 of Unity Commons is well on its way. When you drive by, you’ll see the intersection is looking dramatically different.

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Martin Way Construction at Pattison Street is Impressive

Long time landmarks Aztec Lanes and the VFW Post 318 still hold down two of the four corners. Intercity Transit has towering structures on the southeast corner. Phase 1, which is now called Unity Commons is located behind (up Pattison) from Phase 2. It was completed in January of 2022. Phase 2, which runs right along Martin Way, is scheduled to be completed this September.

The new building encompasses 48,513 square feet and will consist of a 64 housing units, including 40 studio and 24 one bedrooms. The groundbreaking ceremony took place last October with a cadre of local dignitaries. “We are very excited to see this second phase of Unity Commons adding desperately needed permanent supportive housing for seniors,” says Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby. “These types of projects are exactly what we had hoped for when our community passed the Home Fund Levy. Local dollars helping to leverage larger state and federal funding is how we get these critical low-income housing projects built.” The City of Olympia sold the land at a deep discount to LIHI, which allowed for more housing to be built.

Thurston County Housing for Low Income is Much Needed

“Supportive housing for homeless seniors is a huge need in our community,” says Olympia City Manager Jay Burney. “The City is pleased to partner with LIHI on this important second phase of Unity Commons. These additional 64 units are part of the 700 affordable housing units we expect to see across our region over the next four years. We’re really excited to see the momentum grow on affordable housing.”

The two large housing projects will create a protected courtyard in-between. Residents will enjoy beautiful landscaping and commissioned artwork. There will be covered parking. Permanent housing amenities include kitchenettes, private bathroom, designated common space, rooftop garden area, and subsidized rents below 50% of the Area Median Income targeted to seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. There is tailored case management to support individuals to move forward with their lives.

New low income housing units along Martin Way are part of a larger project. There will be 64 new housing units to add to the Unity Commons building behind it that has 65 permanent units and and emergency shelter. Photo courtesy: Low Income Housing Institute

“We’re pleased to continue supporting LIHI and the City of Olympia with the development of Martin Way 2,” said Bob Powers, managing director, Chase Community Development Banking. “Along with Martin Way Phase I, now Unity Commons, these high-quality homes will be an indispensable asset for the community, increasing the local stock of affordable housing and transforming the lives of seniors and other residents with the addition of onsite supportive services.”

The nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute was founded in 1991 and has over 75 properties and over 3,400 units under ownership and management. In addition, LIHI operates 18 tiny house villages in Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Skyway, and Bellingham as a crisis response to homelessness.

“The 2023 Point in Time Count documents 792 individuals experiencing homelessness in Thurston County. People should not have to live in cars, tents or be left to survive on the street. With completion of construction, many more people will have a warm, safe place to live and thrive,” notes LIHI Executive Director, Sharon Lee.

Financing for Phase 2 includes Raymond James, as tax credit equity investor, and JP Morgan Chase as investor and construction lender. Other funders include the State Housing Trust Fund, Thurston County, City of Olympia, Housing Authority of Thurston County, Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, The Home Depot Foundation, Banner Bank, and Washington State Housing Finance Commission. The architect is Encore Architects, and the contractor is Deacon Construction.

Unity Commons Phase 1 is also a 5-story building that includes 65 permanent housing units for people who have been homeless. LIHI operates this facility, which provides on-site supportive services for its residents. The property is for singles, couples, veterans, seniors and people living with disabilities. The ground floor is a 58-bed 24/7 enhanced shelter operated by Interfaith Works. For this building LIHI is the owner/developer. The architect was Encore Architects and the contractor was Walsh Construction Company. For more information, call Interfaith Works at 360.357.7224.

Phase 2 is under construction on Martin Way. The building behind is already complete with permanent housing and emergency shelter on the ground floor. Photo courtesy: Low Income Housing Institute

Unity Commons Phase 1 Overnight Shelter Information

  • All genders are welcome, couples stay together whenever possible, service animals and companion pets are okay, sobriety is not required, no ID is required for bed placement. 
  • Guests must be over 18, have gone through Coordinated Entry, and can test negative for COVID-19 prior to placement. The shelter is authorized to administer COVID-19 tests on-site.
  • Priority goes to couples without dependent children and single adults who are living with serious, persistent challenges related to physical, mental, and substance use related health issues.
  • Amenities include showers and laundry, personal secured storage, community kitchen, phone, mail and internet services, specific sleeping areas for all genders and couples.

Donated Meals Feed People without Homes

Meal donations support the shelter and its 60 guests. Community or church groups, and families can provide 30 or 60 servings of a lunch or dinner. Food can be made safely at home or come from a restaurant. Groups bring sandwiches, fresh fruits and vegetables, snacks, drinks and sometimes desserts. It’s helpful to include paper plates and utensils, if possible. You can sign up online.

Living with dignity is important for everyone in our community.

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