FUSION builds a new home from the ground up

The nonprofit’s 24th and 25th housing units will be a duplex in Federal Way.

Lemonade out of lemons is how FUSION’s Executive Director David Harrison described his reaction to one of its transitional homes catching fire and burning down.

On April 11, FUSION held its first groundbreaking for two future homes in its transitional housing program. The final structures will be the 24th and 25th homes given to families in the program.

Before this property became an empty lot, it held a one-family home soon to be remodeled.

“We’d board it up, and people would break into it, and we would go back and board it up, and then someone decided they needed to start a fire and burned it down,” Harrison said.

The plan was to keep the original home, but after the house burned down in May 2023, Harrison said they decided to build a duplex because it was a good way to take advantage of the large property at 31312 13th Ave. S.

In attendance at the event was Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who had a similar outlook as Harrison.

“It’s great. We took something that burned down to the ground, and it’s going to rise back up. It’s going to host families, and really, I think it’s going to be a great thing to get people out of the grip of homelessness, to move forward with some dignity and pride in their lives,” Ferrell said. Additionally, Ferrell said he enjoys attending opportunities like the groundbreaking because they celebrate growth and opportunity in the community.

Harrison said two of their partners, Lennar and HomeAid, are helping them construct the duplex. HomeAid Executive Director Matt Jarrell said his company works with Lennar to hire contractors to build homes. Jarrell said because he grew up in Federal Way, he sees this project as a love letter to Federal Way, and now, whenever he drives past the location, he will remember the groundbreaking.

“Federal Way is so diverse, and I think that growing up, that was the gift this city gave me, the opportunity to meet and experience so many cultures that were beautiful and celebrated,” Jarrell said. “I’m excited to create more homes for future families to feel the same.”

Lennar Division President Bill Salvesen called this free work they’re doing for FUSION “focused acts of caring.” He said Lennar has worked with FUSION on a handful of projects, but this is the first time they’re helping build a home from the ground up. Salvesen said the last home they helped FUSION with was a five-bedroom house called The Carpenter House. He said Lennar’s trade partners helped with things such as landscaping, siding, cabinets and whatever else was needed. Salvesen said the groundbreaking made him feel “invigorated.”

“It’s so exciting to think about the impact that will be made on families experiencing homelessness, and how people will be able to have a stable home to start their day and live life, is a dramatic impact,” Salvesen said.

Harrison said that in the last two years, the transitional housing program for families has had a 100 percent success rate, with no families returning to homelessness. Harrison said he attributes this to FUSION’s approach, which does not just look to house families, but also teaches them how to manage their newfound home and finances while achieving self-sufficiency.

“Housing first is, ‘I’m going to give you a place to live, and fingers crossed, you figured out how to get your life in order.’ We’re not housing first. It’s more of a wraparound program. We’re going to provide you housing, but also life skills and case management, to make sure that you’re successful,” Harrison said. “So many of these families have never been exposed to something like that, and it’s a real eye-opener for them. How do you create a self-sufficient environment for your children moving forward?”

David Harrison giving a speech at the groundbreaking for Fusion’s future duplex on April 11, 2024. Photo by Joshua Solorzano/ Federal Way Mirror

David Harrison giving a speech at the groundbreaking for Fusion’s future duplex on April 11, 2024. Photo by Joshua Solorzano/ Federal Way Mirror