Gardner House residents

Reconnecting Community

On the main floor of Mercy Housing Northwest’s (MHNW) Gardner House in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle sits the 8,000-square-foot Allen Family Center. The space offers ample room for community gatherings, access to resources, and much more. Gardner House is home to 95 households in King County, offering permanent supportive housing with program-enriched services for families that have previously experienced homelessness.

On a balmy (for the Pacific Northwest) July night in 2022, residents gathered in the community room to hear from a guest speaker on accessing healthcare in Washington state. A little later, they shared monthly community updates providing an opportunity to hear from their fellow neighbors. They also take the time to hold each other accountable – requesting respect for quiet hours, exchanging opportunities, and self-advocacy.

If you’ve ever attended a neighborhood association or town hall meeting, the gathering described above is not an unfamiliar sight. The small but mighty group of residents have mastered self-advocacy in their resident-led community meetings. They work hard to keep their community beautiful and create opportunities for neighbors to connect.

As the pandemic stretched into months and months into years, this regular gathering of neighbors was canceled out of an abundance of caution. Lost for a little while, these special meetings were anything but forgotten.

A few weeks after the July meeting, neighbors gathered during’ Gardner House’s National Night Out event for food, drinks, games, conversation, and a chance to reconnect as a community. It wasn’t easy getting to this point, but the work of holding a community together never is.