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Housing Authority submits second Choice Neighborhoods grant

Funds would support new housing, neighborhood transformation

SEATTLE – April 25, 2012 – On April 9, Seattle Housing Authority staff members bundled up their hopes for Yesler Terrace redevelopment, along with a 110+ page grant application for nearly $20 million in federal Choice Neighborhoods Initiative funding, and sent it all off to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, DC for consideration.

"We are hopeful that our timely implementation of the first Choice Neighborhoods grant will help influence the decision-makers to award a second grant," noted Development Director Stephanie Van Dyke.

The first grant of $10,270,000 was awarded in 2010. The initial award is funding the construction and rehabilitation of 243 units of mixed-income housing (including 98 replacement units) in the area east of Boren Avenue. Neighborhood improvements being funded include a pedestrian hillclimb connecting Little Saigon with the Yesler neighborhood along Tenth Avenue, and improving Horiuchi Park to be the site for community gardens. Additionally, the 2010 grant is providing subsidy for 4,000 square feet of affordable retail, and supportive services for Yesler Neighborhood residents focused on education and public safety. 

The 2012 Choice Neighborhoods grant application is seeking $19,730,000 to begin construction of 104 replacement units in the area south of the Yesler Community Center. The ongoing theme of the second grant application, and the Choice Neighborhood Initiative in general, is transformation of the greater Yesler Terrace neighborhood. This transformation would be achieved over a ten to fifteen year period.

Hallmarks of the transformation include sustainable design and construction of 2,500 units of housing, construction of a new 1.75 acre neighborhood park in the heart of the Yesler neighborhood and three pocket parks (totaling 1 acre). Pedestrian and bicycle connections between the Little Saigon, Yesler and First Hill neighborhoods would be improved, and the neighborhood would experience the benefit of the new First Hill Streetcar.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative also focuses on improving important community facilities. For the Yesler neighborhood, this would involve funds to assist with the restoration of Washington Hall as a neighborhood performing arts center, and establishing two neighborhood low-income medical clinics. During this same period, the landmarked steam plant in the northwest area of Yesler Terrace will go through its own process of historic restoration and re-use to become an education and employment resource center for Yesler residents. Partners in this important work include Neighborhood House, Catholic Community Services, the Service Employees International Union and the Workforce Development Council.

Seattle Housing Authority staff members hope to host a tour for HUD evaluators in September, with news of grant awards to follow shortly thereafter.