The average resident of the Harvard Court Apartments lives on about $13,000 a year — and is not considering suicide. In a discussion with CHS following two suicides in two weeks at the low income housing tower at 610 Harvard Ave E, Virginia Felton, director of strategic planning and communications for Seattle Housing Authority, said her agency doesn’t believe Harvard Court’s residents should be treated differently than residents in any apartment building. “Our approach is as a landlord,” Felton told CHS. “We’re not trying to ‘suicide proof’ our building.”
Felton said that SHA did have staff from Aging and Disability Services available to help and talk with any residents that needed support.
Felton confirmed that the two recent deaths were both Harvard Court residents. Contrary to the information we received from the Seattle Fire Department, the first death was a woman, Felton said. This weekend’s death was a man who lived in the tower.
To put the recent deaths in perspective, Felton said that while suicides have happened at the 80-apartment building in the past she and the Harvard Court building manager could remember fewer than five in the last ten years or so. “This is pretty unusual,” Felton said.
SHA provides services to about 27,000 people. Some of those people, it turns out, have mental health issues. Some are thinking about suicide. Some decided to end their lives. For Felton, it’s a matter of making buildings like Harvard Court a good place to live. “Should we make it so windows don’t open?” Felton asked. “For those residents that don’t have mental health as an issue, that’s not a solution.”