A few months ago, Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (S.A.F.E.) and other community activists mobilized to defend the Umojafest Peace Center, the Black Dot and other residents from racially motivated eviction by Midtown Properties. We’re pleased to hear yesterday that Africatown Land Trust and Forterra came to an agreement with Lake Union Partners to purchase 20% of Midtown Center for affordable and market-rate apartments.
We see this as a small victory and in some ways, business-as-usual, regarding development and displacement. For Seattle to really be affordable for all, as Tyree Scott said, “there can be no separate peace” and small islands of affordability at the behest of organizations like, Lake Union Partners; instead convening partners such as, Capitol Hill Housing to build an affordable housing coalition that would be focused on empowering marginalized and low-income people.
Overall systemic change that is the goal of SAFE. Settling for 20% of a block is a kind of business-as-usual compromise that sets a distressing precedent that compromises the integrity of the peoples demand for an affordable Seattle. We need systemic policy changes and institutional change, such as, a displacement mitigation fund that is supported by impact fees from companies, such as, Vulcan and Lake Union Partners that funds affordable housing, education on their rights for low-income renters and elderly homeowners, as well as expanded rental assistance for low-income renters.
S.A.F.E. is organizing an Anti-Displacement Community meeting for Tuesday, May 30th at 7:00pm at the Hillman City Collaboratory to bring together anti-gentrification/ displacement activists to plan a new offensive against the predatory development in our communities that takes advantage of historically dis-invested communities.
The deal at Midtown Center will create a building with 50% of its units as affordable, while partnering with one of the biggest market-rate developers in the city. We recognize that 50% affordable units is higher than the MHA standard, this deal falls short of the vision that many held of the entire block being transformed from a place of trauma and exclusion to a celebration of African American culture, and a symbol of resistance against gentrification.
The issue of housing affordability is at the center of Seattle’s political discourse right now. The resistance led by the CID Coalition to fight the 14-story Hotel Concepts development in the Chinatown-International District is also inspiring.
More importantly, we are very troubled with the lack of transparency with Africatown/ Black Dot during our campaign in the Central District; therefore, we want the next steps to address displacement to be as inclusive as possible.