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Officials unveil new Burndale Homes community center in Auburn
For the Auburn Reporter
Books crowd classroom shelves, art projects spill across tables and a bank of state-of-the art computers flash with Internet access at a new community facility in Auburn.
Burndale Homes, a 50-unit public housing complex owned by the King County Housing Authority (KCHA), is open for business.
The community center provides a welcome setting for children participating in after-school programs and for adults using the array of employment-related programs.
A community celebration for the new facility is 4 p.m. today at the center, 1044 18th St. NE, in Auburn.
Burndale Homes residents and the KCHA join a cast of dignitaries, including U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert, Auburn Deputy Mayor Nancy Backus, Neighborhood House officials, YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish CEO Sue Sherbrooke, and Dick Scobee Elementary School Principal Adam Couch, to celebrate the new center.
"This type of academically oriented after-school program supplements the learning that occurs during the school day and is essential to the success of our students," Couch said. "These programs, and this great new center that houses them, are designed to engage students, parents, teachers – to bring in parents and kids for services that hold real promise for better educational and life outcomes for kids and families."
Designed by ARC Architects and built by Buchanan General Contractors, the 3,563 square-foot facility is equipped with a classroom, dedicated computer lab, multipurpose meeting/activity space, kitchen and private counseling areas.
The project was funded under a Capital Fund Communities Facilities Program grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) intended to support the development of education and training facilities for public housing residents.
"A strong community needs a center, a place where people can gather, work, learn and play together and can make contributions big and small to bettering the place they call home," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride. "The King County Housing Authority has long understood the importance of such centers in the lives of the residents it serves. Burndale is the latest bricks-and-mortar example of its commitment to community and our Department is proud to have been part of making it a reality."
Neighborhood House oversees a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of children living at Burndale Homes and in the surrounding community. YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish provides an array of adult employment services including job training, computer skills, English as a Second Language classes and financial management trainings.
The center is expected to serve about 60 youth and at least 70 adults on a regular basis. It is fully accessible for use by physically disabled clients.
"This center is an investment in our kids and our future," Backus said. "The partnership between the city, the Housing Authority, our schools, the nonprofit community, and parents touches the lives of our young people in meaningful ways, helping them achieve their academic potential and providing the resources necessary for them to succeed as adults."
"Education is essential to overcoming poverty and attaining economic self-sufficiency," said Reichert, (R-8th District). "This community asset assures that our young people get the support they need to do well in school so they may lead fulfilling and productive lives. The educational opportunities and employment resources offered at this center will make a significant difference in the lives of Burndale Homes and Auburn residents."
$1.09 million project
Construction of the community facility, which cost $1.09 million, began in November 2011, and the center opened its doors this winter. The construction employed approximately 40 construction workers and complemented other Housing Authority projects funded under the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act, which generated over 1,470 construction jobs across the region.
Previously, Neighborhood House ran after-school programs out of a converted apartment unit at Burndale. The YWCA had only a minimal presence on site due to space constraints. The facility contains more than three times the original program space.
"Housing is an important first step towards academic success − homeless children find it very difficult to focus on learning – but it's not enough" said Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority. "Ensuring that kids have an opportunity to succeed is among our highest priorities as an organization. This facility, combined with our partnerships with schools, community-based providers and parents, furthers this goal by providing a setting where opportunities can occur. It also sends a clear message to kids: You matter. You can overcome the cultural and economic barriers that might otherwise restrict your ability to achieve your potential. We are grateful for the support of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell that helped make this project possible."
The venture is part of a broader initiative by the Housing Authority to assist children in low-income households. The Burndale Homes facility is part of a network of community centers developed by KCHA, including two in Auburn, to provide after-school programs for youth from both public housing and the surrounding community, as well as adult education and job training opportunities for their parents.
By the end of 2013, KCHA will have 20 centers, operated in partnership with nonprofit providers, serving low-income households throughout King County. KCHA provides housing for more than 20,000 children.