The Seattle Housing Authority has received a total of $30 million through the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative to support residents in their quest for living wage jobs, high quality education and healthy living.
Participation in the Choice Neighborhoods program allows Seattle Housing Authority to expand the boundaries of redevelopment beyond its public housing community to include the wider neighborhood. The Choice Neighborhoods grant provides important seed money to begin the redevelopment process and engage new community partners.
The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative was designed to transform distressed neighborhoods with public and assisted housing into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. This is achieved by linking housing improvements with appropriate services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs. In addition to public housing authorities, the initiative will involve local governments, non-profits, and for-profit developers in undertaking comprehensive local planning with residents and the community.
Seattle Housing is working with a coalition of partners to transform the neighborhood. Key partners in this initiative include:
- City of Seattle
- Seattle University
- King County
- Seattle Public Schools
- Workforce Development Council
- Neighborcare Health
- Neighborhood House
- Historic Seattle
The long term plan is to focus on expanding housing for all income levels throughout the target area. Now there are just over 1,000 units of housing in the neighborhood, mostly low-income. The vision is to expand to nearly 6,500 units throughout the neighborhood through rentals and privately-owned homes. This housing would serve residents along an income spectrum based on Area Median Income, as follows:
Less than 30% AMI: 665
Less than 60% AMI: 338
Less than 80% AMI: 892
Market Rate: 4,563
The first phase of redevelopment will add a total of 238 units to the area east of Boren. Seattle Housing Authority will build 103 of these units at a new development at 1105 East Fir St.
The housing authority will also rehab the vacant Baldwin Apartments at 14th Avenue and East Fir to create 15 one-bedroom apartments. Of these housing authority units, 98 will be replacements for public housing units currently existing at Yesler Terrace.
A market-rate housing developer will build a 120-unit building at 12th and Yesler that will also include neighborhood retail.
Although the current Yesler Terrace housing has served Seattle families for over fifty years, they no longer meet today’s standards in terms of accessibility, energy-efficiency, and healthy living. Of the 118 units to be created at the Baldwin Apartments and 1105 East Fir buildings, 15 units will be designed as 100% UFAS Type A Units to accommodate those with disabilities. All new housing is expected to include design features that will alleviate health issues that residents with respiratory issues, such as asthma, may experience.
Please visit the Housing section of this site to learn more about the new and improved apartments in design and construction phases.
Investing in people
The success of the new mixed-income dense community will in large part depend on the effectiveness of a sustainable social infrastructure that offers ladders to success for current and future low-income tenants. Approximately $4.5 million of the Choice Neighborhoods grant will be invested in the three key areas that are critical to overcoming poverty:
- Improving educational achievement
- Increasing economic opportunities
- Enhancing access to quality healthcare and healthy living resources
Seattle University is overseeing a “cradle-to-college” pipeline of educational support services based on the Harlem Children’s Zone model. Seattle Public Schools and other educational entities are key partners. This approach will make it possible for low-income children in the neighborhood to have access to a range of programs from early learning (e.g. Head Start) and tutoring to mentoring aimed at helping students enter college and receive scholarships.
The coalition to support the educational efforts of Yesler’s children and youth is based on the belief that the success in education is the best pathway out of poverty for children and youth. A white paper details the goals and theory of change for this initiative.
Please see Improving Community Resources and Services to learn more about the various education, economic opportunities, and health initiatives.
The vision for the Neighborhood component is to transform Yesler Neighborhood into a diverse, connected, safe and sustainable neighborhood of choice for people of all backgrounds and incomes, adjacent to downtown and major regional employers, for the benefit of the entire city.
This component focuses on the community infrastructure and amenities that are needed to create a truly viable mixed-income neighborhood. Choice Neighborhood grant funding of $4.5 million is being leveraged with other funds to:
- Create a pedestrian hillclimb connecting Yesler Terrace to the Little Saigon neighborhood along the 10th Ave. S. right of way.
- Enhance Horiuchi Park, with help from the City of Seattle, to include community garden space.
- Improve neighborhood pedestrian connections and open space.
Long term plans
Full neighborhood transformation will take up to 15 years and will be accomplished with an investment of nearly $2 billion in public and private funds, including the $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant, as well as funding committed by the City of Seattle and JPMorgan Chase. The plan’s goals are threefold:
- Transform distressed public housing into energy-efficient, mixed-income housing that is physically and financially viable over the long term.
- Support positive outcomes for families who live in the area, particularly outcomes related to residents’ health, safety, employment and education.
- Transform neighborhoods of poverty into viable, mixed-income neighborhoods by improving local services and access to good schools, public transportation and other public assets.