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Seattle Housing submits Choice Neighborhoods grant application requesting $23.9 million

Partners for neighborhood transformation to include Seattle University, Seattle Public Schools and Historic Seattle

SEATTLE — November 11, 2010 — Seattle Housing Authority has submitted a grant application to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development seeking nearly $24 million to spark the transformation of the Yesler Terrace neighborhood through comprehensive education and employment programs, housing opportunities and support for economic development.

"The Choice Neighborhoods program focuses on improving the lives of the people in the neighborhood, not just the housing," stressed Development Director Stephanie Van Dyke. While the complete transformation will take at least 15 years, the Choice Neighborhoods grant would be used for Phase I. Initial redevelopment would be focused on a broad area including Yesler Terrace and extending eastward toward 14th Avenue and southward toward Little Saigon.


This map shows the areas of the neighborhood where initial development would be focused.


"This new program can capitalize on the assets and address the challenges that exist in this community," noted Executive Director Tom Tierney. "Even though the neighborhood bears the burden of distressed housing and infrastructure, there are social assets in place to fuel its transformation. What's needed is a financial spark to ignite it." The new program is designed to spur neighborhood renewal by linking housing improvements with services, schools, public assets, transportation, and access to jobs. Specific improvements would include streetscape improvements along Twelfth Avenue and support for small-scale local retail.

Baldwin Apartments

Baldwin Apartments

Phase I activities would include new housing on the Twelfth and Yesler Block, renovation of the Baldwin Apartments onFourteenth Ave. and renovation of the historic Washington Hall performing arts building. If funded, the grant would pay for demolition of 40 severely distressed public housing units, construction of 70 replacement units for extremely low-income residents and construction of an additional 124 low-income and workforce housing units. An additional 18 housing units for extremely low-income residents would be gained through the rehabilitation of the Baldwin Apartments. In addition to the housing, the Choice Neighborhood program also focuses on improving the quality of the neighborhood and increasing opportunities for the people who live there. Education and economic opportunity are especially important for transformation.

Bailey Gatzert Elementary School

Bailey Gatzert Elementary School

The education component would address the needs of school-age children and youth, from pre-school to college. The local elementary school, Bailey Gatzert, would benefit from engagement with both students and staff from nearby Seattle University, which has signed on to take the lead in improving education.

Kent Koth directs Seattle University's Center for Service and Community Engagement, and will manage the partnership. "We are looking forward to facilitating measurable positive change in the lives of youth living at Yesler Terrace," he said. "The Choice Neighborhood partnership provides a means of bringing together an array of university resources and expertise to help children succeed and further our mission of service."

The Seattle University Youth Initiative is uniting the university with the wider community in creating a pipeline of support for low-income youth and families in the neighborhood. In creating SUYI, Seattle University drew upon exemplary practices of community engagement and nationally-recognized models of neighborhood development such as the Harlem Children's Zone. About $3.6 million of the grant proceeds will fund education and employment programs.

Washington Hall

Washington Hall

The renovation of Washington Hall will allow it to continue to provide important cultural opportunities in the neighborhood. Built originally in 1908, it has anchored the social and cultural activities of the Yesler Neighborhood for more than 100 years. Seattle Housing will work with Historic Seattle to direct about $3.6 million of the grant proceeds to the rehabilitation project.

Housing Authority officials expect to hear the results of the grant process in 2011.