The first of the month will come a little easier for 18 nonprofit human-services organizations housed at the Eastside's Human Services Campus in Redmond. Beginning Jan. 1, the agencies' rent...

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The first of the month will come a little easier for 18 nonprofit human-services organizations housed at the Eastside’s Human Services Campus in Redmond.

Beginning Jan. 1, the agencies’ rent will drop about 15 percent, from $11.37 per square foot to $9.66 per square foot. That will translate into savings of thousands of dollars for the organizations — money they can spend instead on their clients.

It’s a windfall for many organizations at a time when government has cut spending on local nonprofits, said Pam Mauk, executive director for Family Resource Center, a nonprofit that owns the campus property. Meanwhile, the weak economy has increased unemployment and the need for community services, Mauk said.

The Family Resource Center has been campaigning since 2002 to pay off the $1.5 million mortgage on the campus, a shopping-center-style complex in downtown Redmond. So far, the resource center has paid off $800,000 through donations.

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“It will be less money out the door, for agencies,” Mauk said of the rent decrease.

The past couple of years have been hard on local health-services organizations, many of which are housed in the resource center’s Eastside campus. In 2002 and 2003, King County slashed more than $500,000 in assistance to such agencies as Community Health Centers of King County, Friends of Youth and Youth Eastside Services.

To help, the center decided to focus on paying off the property’s mortgage so that all agencies could enjoy lower rents.

The resource center hopes to pay off the mortgage in the next few years, Mauk said. Once that’s done, it can drop lease rates again — probably to about $6 per square foot, she said.

“We’re going to continue reducing the mortgage until it’s completely paid off,” Mauk said. “It’s such a difficult time, and this is something we can do to protect human services on the Eastside.”

The resource center was formed in 1990 to foster partnerships among agencies and to make it easier for those in need to get services.

It bought the campus complex in 1991. Tenants include the Eastside Community Health Center, Eastside Human Services Alliance, Seattle Mental Health Northwest Counseling Institute and Youth Eastside Services.

Hopelink leases the largest amount of space, so it will see the largest drop in rent — about $16,000 annually, said Doreen Marchione, the agency’s executive director. The money saved from the rent reduction will be used to add a half-time family-support staff member who will help families set goals and help parents find employment. Hopelink also provides food, emergency shelter, transitional housing and child care.

“A $16,000 donation — we would consider that a major gift from anybody,” Marchione said. “And it’s not just one-time money — it’s ongoing, so in the long term it’s quite a bit of savings for us.”

The $3,500 annual drop in rent for Habitat for Humanity of East King County will translate into a set of windows for a new house, said Mia Walterson, the organization’s associate executive director.

“We usually expect a rent increase, not decrease,” she said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

Friends of Youth is hoping to use more than $5,000 it will save on rent annually to keep The Landing, a Bellevue shelter for 18- to 24-year-olds, open an extra night every week, said Howard Finck, the agency’s president.

“That’s not a small thing to the kids who are sleeping at a bus stop,” he said.

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or rtuinstra@seattletimes.com