LIHI disqualified from Home Depot contest

By Staff
Northwest Asian Weekly

Home Depot Foundation volunteers working at a LIHI project in Seattle. (Photo from the Home Depot Foundation)

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will no longer be participating in the Home Depot Foundation’s May Aprons in Action Facebook contest, the organization announced May 24, following the discovery of several fraudulent votes in the organization’s favor.

“LIHI and The Home Depot Foundation were victims of sabotage and fraudulent voting,” said LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee in a statement. “Without our knowledge, someone hired or engaged an overseas company to generate votes. This could have been a competitor — or it could have been an overzealous supporter — but we do not know. We are still investigating.”

Before being eliminated, LIHI sat at second place in the contest out of ten participants. The winner of the contest, decided through Facebook votes, was awarded a $250,000 grant to provide housing for veterans. Second and third place winners received $150,000 and $100,000 respectively. First prize eventually went to Kentucky-based Active Heroes. Second and third prizes both went to Michigan-based organizations.

We do not know where the voting was coming from exactly,” said Home Depot Corporate Spokesman Stephen Holmes in an email to the Asian Weekly. “I’m honestly not certain how long it occurred, but the irregularities were significant enough that we felt we had no choice other than to remove LIHI from the contest. However, I want to be abundantly clear that nothing leads us to believe the voting anomalies were due to any intentional effort by LIHI or their leadership.”

“I would further underscore that The Home Depot Foundation continues to be a strong partner with LIHI to support the great work they do,” he continued.

LIHI and the Home Depot Foundation have had a long history of working together. Over the past three years, the Home Depot Foundation has awarded LIHI $612,700 in grants to provide housing for veterans.

Founded in 1991, LIHI develops, owns, and operates, housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless, and formerly homeless people in Washington State. The organization also advocates for just-housing policies at local and national levels and offers a range of social services. They manage over 1,700 housing units at over 50 sites in the Puget Sound area. Eighty percent of LIHI housing is reserved for households earning less than 30 percent of the area median household income.

Support from the Home Depot Foundation has helped LIHI manage McDermott Place, Fleetwood Apartments, Cate Apartments, Arion Court, Fyre Hotel, and Denny Park Apartments.

LIHI has been invited by the Home Depot Foundation to apply for another grant during the summer. (end)

For more information about the Low Income Housing Institute, visit www.lihi.org.

Northwest Asian Weekly staff can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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