Tsedeke Ketema, 36, Northgate

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

Tsedeke Ketema’s family thinks of him as wealthy.

“They think I’m the richest man on earth because I live in the United States,” Ketema said.

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But Ketema is living a modest life. He sublets a room in a Northgate apartment while he finishes his education at North Seattle Community College. He said it’s challenging sharing an apartment with a family of three while trying to study and rest between classes and his work study at the college’s classroom labs. He’s looking for another place or a roommate elsewhere, but the rental market is tough.

“I don’t have my own apartment; I really don’t have any money for a deposit,” he said. “I have not found someone to be a roommate with me. I don’t really have privacy. There’s a lot of noise going on. Sometimes I come to school with a sleep hangover.”

He considers himself fortunate though. Ketema is a recent immigrant to the United States, working toward citizenship. The oldest of 12 children, he left his family in Ethiopia to pursue education in America. He’s taking science classes preparing for a career in pharmacy.  He’s one of the 9,000 people outside of the SHA looking in and hoping to get into a unit. He’s been on an SHA waiting list since 2012. People like Ketema often spend three years waiting.
TSEDEKE-KETEMA-1The now-on-hold Stepping Forward program appealed to Ketema because he’s already working on his education. The prospect of housing paired with workforce development matched perfectly with his own plans, and he had no concern about being able to meet rents that would increase every couple of years while he would be in housing.

“If I make it to the university, I’ll find enough resources to pay for the extra rent,” he said. “That would not be a worry for me. Today is challenging to me.”

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