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New website provides portrait of low-income housing through the decades chronicles agency’s first 75 years screenshot

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SEATTLE — May 15, 2014 — HistoryLink, in cooperation with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Housing Authority has launched, a website that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Housing Authority.

The new website provides an opportunity for curious observers and historians alike to better understand and reflect on the issues and challenges of low-income housing in Seattle over the years.

A timeline illustrated with more than a dozen pictures, provides a quick overview of the agency’s history. A more detailed essay written by historian John Caldbick fleshes out the issues and challenges, and illustrates how some of the political and societal themes of the past around low-income housing re-emerge in the present. More pictures – including historic black and white images from the 1930s – complement this section.

Short and lively interviews with people who have had a part in the agency’s history make up a third section. The interviews were conducted by Dominic Black and Joshua McNichols, both of whom have done work with KUOW and are experienced interviewers. This section includes interviews with former Executive Director Harry Thomas, two former Seattle Mayors – Charles Royer and Norman Rice – and Al Levine, who recently retired from his position as Deputy Executive Director. Interviews with Kristin O’Connell, long-time Yesler Terrace resident, and Doris Koo, former Development Director, will be added soon.

The interviews on the site have been condensed to about five minutes each, and contain some surprising commentary and insights.

As part of the 75th Anniversary project, HistoryLink has curated a travelling exhibit. The six panels of the exhibit are also reproduced on the website. Research for the project was funded by the Housing Authority and a $20,000 grant from the City.