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Mayor Durkan Announces $5 million to Community Organizations Through the Equitable Development Initiative

Mayor’s “Housing Seattle Now” Establishes New $15 million EDI Revolving Loan Program

Seattle (September 13, 2019) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced $5 million in awards through the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), part of the City’s effort to support Seattle’s existing residents and businesses in high displacement risk neighborhoods. Mayor Durkan announced the awards in Pioneer Square at the Chief Seattle Club, a human service agency that provides for the basic needs of their members, many of whom are experiencing homelessness. Chief Seattle Club is a recipient of this year’s funding.

“Seattle’s challenges of affordability have displaced far too many residents and businesses,” said Mayor Durkan. “Our vision is of a city where all communities can build a home for themselves and their loved ones. Through our Equitable Development Initiative, the City of Seattle is making critical investments in community-based organizations that are working to combat displacement and increase access to opportunity in neighborhoods across our city.”

The EDI fund, administered by the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), was created to respond to the needs of marginalized populations, reduce disparities, and support access to opportunity in healthy, vibrant communities. The initiative is championed by community organizations concerned about displacement pressures and historical lack of investment that has occurred in communities of color in Seattle.

“All Seattle residents must have access to a positive future,” said Sam Assefa, Director of OPCD. “EDI takes its lead from the community leaders and organizations that best understand the realities of today’s displacement pressures. We’re proud to fund these grassroots initiatives that build resiliency and community ownership, and most importantly support racial justice.”

EDI fosters community leadership and supports organizations to promote equitable access to jobs, education and childcare, outdoor space and recreation, cultural expression, healthy food, and other community needs and amenities. These partnerships are designed to support leadership and build capacity building among the most historically marginalized groups in Seattle, sharing in decision-making and power, and working towards racial equity outcomes that allows all communities to thrive.

“Thank you, Mayor Durkan for recognizing the importance of investing in community-grown, culturally-based organizations. The EDI program continues to empower and strengthen underrepresented communities by investing in organic, locally-grown programs across Seattle,” said Colleen Echohawk, Executive Director of Chief Seattle Club. “Chief Seattle Club’s vision of affordable homes that support the needs of the American Indian and Alaskan Native community is further reinforced with this investment through the EDI program.”

As part of her Housing Seattle Now plan, Mayor Durkan is proposing to establish a new $15 million EDI revolving loan program funded from the proceeds of the sale of the surplus, city-owned Mercer St. properties. The new revolving loan program will provide funding to support additional land acquisition by community organizations in response to displacement pressures.

The following community-based organizations working in Seattle on anti-displacement strategies and economic development opportunities have been selected for funding in 2019:

Chief Seattle Club — $1 million
The Chief Seattle Club is seeking to purchase and renovate the Monterey Lofts above their current facility and adjacent to the site of their new facility. The project is designed to support the physical, cultural, and spiritual needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native community, with indigenous designs, affordable housing units, services, health clinic, and a café/art gallery space in Pioneer Square.

Byrd Barr Place — $1 million
Byrd Barr Place has been operating out of the City’s surplus Fire Station 23. The City is working to transfer ownership of the property to the organization and the EDI application will support improvements to the building. Completion of this project would renovate the 100+ year old building to meet contemporary ADA and environmental standards, allowing BBP to expand the services it provides.

Cham Refugees Community — $575,000
Cham Refugees Community is seeking to build an upgraded, 12,000 square foot community center at their existing location. They have a need for a sharia-compliant facility, as most of the other existing or proposed community centers will not meet that specific need. The facility will expand their programming while increasing the usability for youth, the elderly, and disabled members of the community.

Duwamish Longhouse — $575,000
The Duwamish Tribe is proposing to purchase property adjacent to the existing Longhouse to support the continued viability of the cultural space. The expansion will help visitors safely access the Longhouse.

Friends of Little Saigon — $225,000
Friends of Little Saigon are seeking to implement the Landmark Project at 1221 S King St, currently owned by Lam’s Seafood Market. Lam’s is seeking to redevelop the site and would remain as the anchor tenant. These funds will support staffing and feasibility studies, including developing a co-ownership and co-development structure with Lam’s.

Lake City Collective — $75,000
Lake City Collective uses a community ambassador model to preserve cultural heritage and increase the ability for local communities to become self-determining. They have been organizing community members to tackle the displacement challenges in the area and are starting to identify potential community development projects. LCC seeks to establish a location in Seattle’s Little Brook neighborhood that would allow them to expand services and establish partnerships that would preserve existing affordable housing sites in the neighborhood.

Queer the Land — $75,000
Queer the Land will use this funding to build its organization as it pursues its goal to create a cooperative of queer, transgender, and Two-Spirit Black/indigenous/people of color. The group seeks to establish a facility with affordable transitional and semi-permanent housing, co-working space, communal space, and a community garden.

Rainier Beach Action Coalition — $575,000
The Food Innovation District concept was developed as part of the Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan in 2012. RBAC has worked with Forterra to secure property in the Rainier Beach station area; these funds will support predevelopment expenses. The Food Innovation Center will be a multi-purpose facility with a commercial kitchen, food production and training space, and areas to provide supportive services and education. RBAC is pursuing a joint venture with Mt Baker Housing Association, which will develop affordable housing on the site.

Rainier Valley Midwives — $214,700
Rainier Valley Midwives has been operating out of a temporary location in the Rainier Valley Community Clinic that is becoming untenable due to escalating rents. The organization is working to acquire and build a permanent Birth Center in the Rainier Valley that will provide wrap-around services before, during, and after the birth process to people of color.

Wing Luke Museum — $725,000
The Wing is seeking to preserve the Homestead Home one block south of the Museum and to activate its develop its adjacent parking lot. This home is the most intact remaining single-family home in the Chinatown-International District, constructed in 1937 despite the Chinese Exclusion Act and discriminatory barriers to single family homes in the neighborhood. On the lot, the Wing intends to build 60 affordable apartments above a street-level community gathering space.

Since November 2016, OPCD and partner departments, including Office of Economic Development (OED), Office of Housing (OH), Department of Neighborhoods (DON), Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), have been coordinating the administration of the EDI Fund.

The EDI Fund was established with $16 million in one-time funding from the sale of a property. As part of her 2019 budget, Mayor Durkan established consistent funding using a tax on short-term rentals that provides $5 million in ongoing annual revenues. The fund also receives $430,000 in annual funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant.

An Advisory Board helps guide the EDI and to provide feedback and approval of the criteria and decision-making processes for the fund. The board provided recommendations to the City on the funding decisions announced today.

Projects were evaluated on their ability to positively impact several equity drivers, that lead to racial equity outcomes including:

  • Promoting economic opportunity through education, job training, and enhancing community cultural anchors.
  • Helping marginalized populations, businesses, and community organizations stay in their neighborhoods.
  • Enhancing health outcomes, access to healthy, culturally relevant food, and supporting safe environments.

Successful applicants demonstrated a deep relationship with the community they are seeking to serve and feature an inclusive community process, with community members serving in their organizational leadership.