On April 4, 2019, Seattle, Washington Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that $5 million in funding had been made available for community organizations through the city’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) that supports local groups responding to residential, commercial, and cultural displacement.
Community-based organizations working in Seattle on anti-displacement projects, strategies, and economic development opportunities are encouraged to apply to the EDI fund by June 5. Funding is available for capacity building, property acquisition, and capital expenses for community-initiated projects in neighborhoods at high-risk of displacement.
On February 20, Mayor Durkan issued an Executive Order addressing residential displacement, citing the positive work of EDI as an example that should be replicated and noting that “the most effective solutions will be community-based.”
“As we face the challenge of affordability in Seattle, far too many have been displaced and too many of our neighborhoods and businesses have been left behind,” said Mayor Durkan. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity in Seattle’s most underserved communities.”
Mayor Durkan made the announcement at the Refugee and Immigrant Family Center (RIFC) in Delridge. With the help of $815,000 in EDI funds awarded in 2018, the nonprofit Sound Child Care Solutions purchased the property where RIFC now operates a bilingual daycare for 45 children. RIFC had served lower-income families in the neighborhood for 30 years, but was at risk of being displaced when the owner decided to sell the building.
“We are thankful for the Equitable Development Initiative grant. Our landlord was selling the building and through EDI we were able to purchase the building and continue to provide culturally relevant, affordable/free child care for our community. We feel very fortunate knowing that our bilingual preschool will remain in the neighborhood serving the families that benefit best from a program like ours,” said Luz Casio, Center Director, Refugee and Immigrant Family Center, a chapter of Sound Child Care Solutions.
The EDI fund, administered by Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), and in coordination with Office of Economic Development, Office of Housing, Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Arts and Culture, and Office for Civil Rights, was created to respond to the needs of marginalized populations, reduce disparities, and support access to opportunity in healthy, vibrant communities. The initiative was championed by organizations responding to the impacts of historic disinvestment and ongoing displacement pressures in communities of color in Seattle.
OPCD will evaluate applications based on their ability to positively impact several equity drivers, including:
- Promoting access to opportunity and economic mobility;
- Mitigating displacement of marginalized populations, businesses, and community organizations and helping them to thrive in their neighborhoods;
- Enhancing and building off the cultural assets within communities; and
- Reducing disparities in health outcomes.
EDI funds are intended to complement existing funding sources and address gaps identified by communities with their existing resources. Engagement with partner organizations will involve a multi-year process of building capacity, developing a project, and overseeing implementation and reporting.
The city says that successful applicants will be those who demonstrate a deep relationship with the community they are seeking to partner with and feature an inclusive community process, with community members serving in their organizational leadership.
Photo via Adobe Stock.