Vashon HouseHold Looks For a New Leader

After more than 12 years, current VHH Executive Director Chris Szala will retire early next year.

  • Thursday, July 1, 2021 9:01pm
  • News

By Gedney Barclay

For Vashon Household

The 20-year-old affordable housing nonprofit is looking for a new Executive Director with vision and substantive experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and property development, to start in 2022, sometime between January and April.

After more than 12 years with the organization, current VHH Executive Director Chris Szala will retire early next year. This is an exciting time to join VHH, who is currently adding to their properties with the construction of Island Center Homes, a new multi-family project currently in development on the corner of 188th and Vashon Hwy.

Vashon HouseHold currently manages seven properties on the island.

The organization is seeking a leader to maintain and expand our housing programs and engage the community in new solutions, as the need for affordable housing has increased in recent years. Since 2013, housing prices on Vashon have increased over 50%. During the pandemic alone, housing prices rose an additional 12%.

“This is a critical moment for affordable housing in the greater Puget Sound region,” said the VHH board. “We are looking for someone who is passionate about housing rights, and who cannot just continue the work VHH has been doing over the past twenty years, but who brings a vision for how we can adapt and grow our efforts to meet new demands of our community.”

Vashon HouseHold, founded in 1989 by a group of volunteers and established as a nonprofit in 1990, provides access to quality, affordable housing opportunities for low-income and moderate-income islanders in order to preserve and foster economic and cultural diversity of the community.

Vashon Household’s homeownership properties include:

Vashon CoHousing (ownership)— VHH’s first project, Co-Housing now includes an 18-unit, single-family neighborhood with a large common house for community meals and other shared activities, clustered on 12 acres. VHH built 5 of these homes in 1997 and sold them to income-qualified, first-time homebuyers. A covenant is recorded with these homes so they can only be resold to people whose incomes do not exceed 80% of the area median income. VHH built this property but is no longer involved in the administration of the homes or community.

Roseballen Community Land Trust—19 affordable homes, with 12.5 additional acres of shared, permanently preserved open space, and another 3.5 acres of community farm and garden. These homes have purchase prices far below market value. Homeowners qualify for government-subsidized mortgage loans with discounted, sliding-scale interest rates.

Sunflower— Sunflower is a neighborhood community of 14 single-family homes located just two blocks east of Vashon’s town center off Bank Road, inspired by the small-house movement. These homes are designed to be energy efficient, have minimal environmental impact, and be beautiful and comfortable.

Rental properties include:

J.G. Commons— VHH built J.G. Commons in 2003 for low-income seniors (62 and older). The building features 21 modern, 1-bedroom apartments suitable for singles and couples. JG Commons includes a community room, lounge area, conference room, on-site laundry, and an elevator for wheelchair accessibility.

Eernisse Apartments— Eernisse Apartments has 26 affordably-priced apartments built in 2007. There is a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units — the only affordable three-bedroom apartments on Vashon Island.

Charter House: Charter House features nine spacious, one-bedroom apartments reserved for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Originally constructed in 1970, the building was purchased and rehabilitated by VHH in 1996.

Mukai Apartments: In April 2009, VHH purchased an apartment complex in the heart of Vashon Town and renovated all 20 units for low income families and individuals. There are 12 one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom townhouses. The three buildings had suffered years of neglect inside and out. With the support of King County and the State of Washington, VHH bought the buildings and secured grants to fully rehab every unit, building exteriors and grounds, and did so in 2009 and 2010. Mukai Commons provides a home to those who cannot afford market-rate rentals. All of the units are affordable to households that meet federal low-income standards and are set aside for people at or below 50% of the median income. Five units are reserved for formerly homeless people.

Find out more about the work of Vashon Household at Applications for the post of executive director are due by July 31 and can be submitted by email to They must include a resume, cover letter, and three references, as well as complete the following Google Form:

— Gedney Barclay is a member of the board of directors of Vashon HouseHold.

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