Executive Director, Plymouth Housing Group
It takes nimbleness to house the disabled and chronically homeless affordably in Seattle’s heated downtown real estate market, but Paul Lambros knows the right steps. The nonprofit he has served for more than two decades, Plymouth Housing Group, recently opened new units in South Lake Union and on First Hill, and broke ground on a $17 million development in Belltown.
“We’ve found quirky pieces of property downtown that can’t support a large high-rise,” Lambros explains. “But a seven-story unit building, that Plymouth would do.” It’s a natural extension for a group that began by preserving housing in historic hotels and now provides secure, supportive housing in 13 buildings to more than 1,000 formerly homeless adults.
Lambros achieved this growth by balancing public and private funding with commercial investment, creating a stability that has ridden out booms and busts. Plymouth Housing’s annual Seattle Dances! gala brings the community together for the cause, and Lambros himself kicked off the first year’s competition himself with a bit of Western Swing.
If there’s a downside to Plymouth’s success for Lambros, it’s fewer opportunities to get to know the tenants. He recalls one resident with whom he played chess, something he shared again recently on a brief visit to her in a nursing home. Even after so much time, he says, “I feel like my passion and knowledge is still there as it was from the beginning.”