Coalition News Bulletin #54:
Click on headlines and then read below for details: (Our apologies if you received more than one * if you want on or off this list, let us know at this address) Items on this bulletin include:
"SHA Announces Plan to Sell-Off 200 Scattered Site Public Housing Units - Promises 100 percent replacement..... but will they?"
“Alcohol Impact Areas to be extended to U-District, Downtown, Lower Queen Anne, and Central Area - Hearing Tomorrow Tuesday, May 11th, 5:30PM in Council Chambers" - It's called appeasing the downtown and chamber crowd and pushing the poor around. Meanwhile absolutely nothing substantive is done to stop the destruction of low income housing in our city and these areas, and they continue to cut funding for community-based alcohol, drug treatment, and mental healthcare.
"SHA has longterm plans to destroy Yesler Terrace's 550 Public Housing Units" - Broad Coalition forms to prevent loss of public housing - You are invited to a "Large Community Forum" called for June 10th 6:00 PM at Bailey Gatzhert School to collective voice our concerns and hear your concerns.
Read Full Stories Below
1. SHA Announces Plan to Sell-Off 200 Scattered Site Public Housing Units - Promises 100 percent replacement..... but will they?
In the late seventies, with a boost from then Mayor Charles Royer, the Seattle Housing Authority launched one of the first "scattered site" public housing programs in the nation. Over 600 lower density homes (mostly single-family homes or small ground-related apartments) for low income families were built or acquired in single-family and primarily northend and more affluent neighborhoods and discretely placed in these communities in order to ensure that low income people and people of color had real opportunities for access to all of Seattle's communities. For over two decades, the program has been an extraordinary success helping literally thousands of families to stabilize their living situation and then ultimately transition back into the larger community.
SHA now says that the program is uneconomical to maintain - too costly in terms of maintenance and operation. And in pursuit of zero-based budgeting and better "asset management", they propose selling off 200 of these units but assure us that all 200 will be replaced at comparable price while leaving SHA with an extra 20 million in revenue needed for other "low income" purposes. To achieve this, they claim that they can sell off each of these units for about $200,000 a piece given the hot market that now exists for single family homes in Seattle thus realizing some $40 million in revenues. With only $20 million of those dollars, SHA claims it can replace the 200 units they've sold. While these units wouldn't be nice big single family homes or ground-related apartments with yards, they'd still be at least 2 bedroom public housing units for low income families, and comparably dispersed throughout Seattle's neighborhoods. Acknowledging "the trade-offs", SHA realizes that families would be living in tighter denser 8-16 unit apartments mostly located along arterials and far from the core areas of most communities but in return they say it frees up another $20 million for other low income purposes.
There are a host of issues related to SHA's plans, but it looks like the community and city officials who might want to review this are going to be given very little time to evaluate it, let along make constructive changes to the plan. SHA staff has already taken their proposal to HUD for approval (since these units are HUD funded that approval is required - such approval is still pending however) and on May 17th, they'll be asking their board for approval of this plan.
But a host of questions emerge. Is it really possible to build 200 replacement units for families in northend neighborhoods and other more affluent areas at a cost of $100,000 per unit? Can such units truly meet the objective of guaranteeing comparable housing for low income people and people of color in more affluent neighborhoods? Will all these replacement units truly serve public housing eligible families or will they be marketed to higher income groups? How will families now living in these units to be sold, be given satisfactory relocation? What really will SHA do with the extra $20 million in revenue they realize from this "adjustment" in their inventory? SHA says they'll use the extra proceeds to acquire or develop more housing for low income households, but will they instead use these dollars to acquire and develop mixed income or higher income units as they already are doing with some of their revenues? The City committed city revenues for purchase of some of SHA's scattered site units - several million dollars in fact. Shouldn't the city have a say in whether these units should be sold?
We will ask that SHA bring their plan to the City Council before they proceed with it only after a thorough public review. Under no circumstance should they proceed without a formal and written commitment guaranteeing 100 percent replacement of public housing with public housing and that all replacement units will serve families and in neighborhoods like the Northend now lacking in such opportunities. SHA must also provide guarantees that any extra revenue (after creating 200 replacement units serving public housing residents) also go towards serving this low income public housing eligible population.
To express your concern, please call your councilmembers especially Tom Rasmussen, head of the Housing Committee (see phone numbers below), and ask him to bring this matter up in his committee immediately. Also, you may call SHA or leave messages for all SHA boardmembers by accessing their website at http://www.sea-pha.org/
2. Alcohol Impact Areas to be extended to U-District, Downtown, Lower Queen Anne, and Central Area - Hearing Tomorrow Tuesday, May 11th, 5:30PM in Council Chambers - It’s called appeasing the downtown and chamber crowd and pushing the poor around. Meanwhile absolutely nothing substantive is done to stop the destruction of low income housing in these areas, and they continue to cut funding for community-based alcohol, drug treatment, and mental healthcare.
City leaders are pouring unlimited amounts of public dollars into Paul Allen's plans in South Lake Union, cutting funding for treatment and services, and promoting redevelopment that destroys our low income housing stock. It can only mean more homelessness and more people on the streets with disabilities who are suffering. Now our politicians are going to spend their time puffing themselves up, decrying the problem, while pushing stuff like this. Banning or restricting the sale of cheap alcohol keeps our attention diverted and it's a nice little palliative - a sop to the business community - that sweeps the problem under the rug. Or in this case, - actually accentuates the problem while moving it somewhere else. It's what politicians love...saying they support this junk looks good on their re-election brochures.....while real solutions continue to go wanting and they're actions actually make things worse.
Tomorrow, the Housing, Human Services & Health Committee, chaired by Tom Rasmussen will hold a public hearing on the chamber and corporate supported plan to extend restrictions on sale of various cheap brands of alcohol in the Central Core & University District Area. Actually what we talking about is restricting these sales in most of the central core of Seattle.
The hearing will start at 5:30 PM Location: City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, 2nd Floor. Entrance to the building is on Fifth Avenue between James & Cherry Streets. Call or e-mail or come testify...tell your councilmembers to get off their rear ends and start working on real solutions - more housing and community based treatment in these communities where the need exists. Stop wasting your time and our time on social control measures that only push people around and further alienate this already troubled population. Such bans also don't cure anyone - some actually move to harder substances when they can't get cheap booze. Tell Tom Rasmussen he should say no to these kinds of measures until we start really providing housing and social service alternatives for those in need. Let's move that up to first on his agenda and the City's.
3. SHA has longterm plans to destroy the Yesler Terrace Public Housing Community - Coalition of groups comes together to ensure that whatever happens, there will be no net loss of the 550 public housing units on site and that existing residents will have first say in any development plans and any new designs for this important city resource.
- You are invited to a "Large Community Forum" called for June 10th 6:00 PM at Bailey
Gatzhert School to collective voice our concerns and hear your concerns.
Councilmembers will be on hand, Yesler Terrace residents, leaders of the minority community, and representatives from over a dozen grassroots organizations including the Displacement Coalition, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, Urban League, and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness. But we really need your attendance as well. Please mark this important date in your calender. We hope you can join us. If you would like to get involved in a joint effort to help us save this critical resource, call us (the Displacement Coalition) at 632-0668 or contact the other groups mentioned above as sponsors and participants.
A few more details:
The Seattle Housing Authority has indicated that very soon they will begin planning a full teardown and redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace Public Housing Community. They say that full planning won't begin until early next year but it is critically important for us right now to strongly convey what we want to see happen at that site before they tell us as they did at Holly Park "that the train has left the station". This garden community of 550 public housing units was one of the first built under the Roosevelt Administration and one of the first of its kind in the nation. It has gone through several upgrades since then and continues to provide critical housing and support services for families and seniors - particularly households of color. It has been integral to helping low income families, minorities, and immigrants transition into our community and as such has really helped anchor the central area and our city at a time our city is being rapidly gentrified. Yesler Terrace is also located on prime development property with views and overlooks downtown. It's valuable real estate to those at SHA who only view this as just one more asset. And in the era of HUD "devolution", and declining resources, SHA now has a free reign to do what it wants to on this site...unless the community speaks up.
We'll have more updates and provide more details for you about this as time progresses. Call us at 632-0668 if you'd like to help us save this important resource.
4. Special Report on HOPE VI by John McLaren: Please go to our website (click on below for acces/s to the specific site) to see a Special Report on HOPE VI by John McLaren which provides a useful and important analysis of the status of this federal program and how it has been used here locally and nationally as a tool to dismantle our nation's and city's public housing stock. click here for the full report
SHA has launched four HOPE VI Redevelopments in Seattle - At Rainier Vista, Holly Park, Roxbury Village and High Point.. Together these projects resulted in the loss of 1000 public housing units in our community. Please see a Special Report on HOPE VI by John McLaren which provides a useful and important analysis of the status of this federal program and how it has been used here locally and nationally as a tool to dismantle our nation's and city's public housing stock. While SHA says they will not seek HOPE VI funding to redevelop Yesler Terrace - there is a real possibility they could implement a similar plan that would result in the loss of hundreds of public housing units. This community cannot let that happen.
A few of our members are architects and planners. John McLaren, is one of those who has written a useful paper on HUD's deeply problematic "HOPE VI" public housing redevelopment program. He has addressed the paper not to the general public, but to architects and planners in the community, after being invited to write such a piece for the "Column V" journal put out annually by the UW's architectural school. His editor ultimately refused the paper, explaining that "It is a substantive contribution to a very complex and important subject. Unfortunately, that makes it difficult to incorporate into Column V." We agree that it's a substantive contribution that should be widely dispersed. Please jump to click here for the full report to read John's full piece with footnotes:
phones and e-mails for councilmembers:
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