On September 12, 2022 in Seattle, Washington, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced nearly $9 million in awards intended to promote inclusive neighborhood revitalization.
The awards come through the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), part of the City’s effort to support property ownership among Seattle’s diverse cultural communities in high displacement-risk neighborhoods.
The City awarded funds to community organizations for site acquisition and major capital projects, as well as capacity-building support to organizations that are still developing their plans for permanent homes in Seattle.
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.
“To tackle the challenges of displacement, Seattle is working together with community-based organizations to invest in tangible efforts – focusing on supporting underserved communities, fostering healthy families, and delivering new economic opportunity,“ said Mayor Harrell.
“Our One Seattle vision includes permanent homes for organizations that serve communities of color facing growing pressures. With these investments, we are partners in helping these cultural organizations achieve their dreams of owning property and having a forever home in our city,” he added.
EDI fosters community leadership that promotes equitable access to jobs, education and childcare, outdoor space and recreation, cultural expression, healthy food, and other community needs and amenities.
“These organizations and projects are responding to displacement pressures among communities of color in Seattle,” said Rico Quirindongo, OPCD’s acting director.
“Our investments are another concrete step toward our shared vision of an inclusive city filled with diverse neighborhoods and cultures – not just today, but long into the future,” he continued.
These funding partnerships are designed to build capacity among the most historically marginalized groups in Seattle. The program is based in shared decision-making and power, working towards racial equity outcomes that allows all communities to thrive.
“This award is a testament that our city recognizes our contribution and unwavering commitment to our community, especially our youth,” said Chettie McAfee, Central Area Youth Collaborative.
“Generations of families have come through our doors, including the Mayor and myself as well. We remain in the heart of the city, known as the ‘CD’ for those who have been here a while, as we are in the heartbeat of the city that keeps on going. The award is essential for us, so we can remain true to our mission,” she added.
The following community-based organizations received awards to support property ownership and capital projects in 2022:
- United Indians of All Tribes Foundation ($1,075,000) for rehabilitation of Daybreak Star;
- Ethiopian Community in Seattle ($244,868) to support construction of Ethiopian Village, a mixed-use facility with housing and a community center;
- Hip Hop is Green ($175,000) to support predevelopment work for Cherry Street Farm and Commissary Kitchen in the Central District;
- Life Enrichment Bookstore ($1,501,187) for their site acquisition to preserve cultural space in Columbia City;
- Muslim Housing Services ($650,000) to help purchase a new Rainier Beach office space;
- Rainier Beach Action Coalition ($80,000) to contribute to tenant improvements at the new Food Innovation Center;
- Rainier Valley Midwives ($200,000) to help fund tenant improvements at the new birth center in Hillman City;
- Royal Esquire Club ($781,827) to support the rehabilitation of existing cultural space in Columbia City;
- Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network ($290,314) to help rehabilitate a donated facility for the House of Constance, a housing and community space in Capitol Hill;
- Tubman Center for Health & Freedom ($1,075,000) to contribute to a new health clinic at Graham Street in the Rainier Valley; and
- Central Area Youth Association (size of award pending) for acquisition of additional parcels to support Center House and new program space.
The following EDI partners will receive new capacity-building awards of up to $75,000 in 2022: BIPOC Sustainable Tiny Art House Community, Casa Latina, Cham Refugees Community, Estelita’s Library, Fathers and Sons Together, Friends of Little Saigon, House of Mkeka, and Khmer Community of Seattle/King County.
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 coordinated the administration of the EDI Fund.
The EDI Advisory Board of community members provided recommendations to the City on the funding criteria and decisions announced.
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; and
- 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.
Photo of Seattle via Pixabay.