NEWS GLEAMS: New Fund for Black Homebuyers, Booster Vaccine Trial Seeks Volunteers, & More!

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

✨Gleaming This Week✨

City of Seattle Launches New Data-Rich Race and Equity Websites

Looking for demographic information about race, housing, and health? Check out the new series of websites launched by the Race and Social Justice Initiative. A sample of rich data available at the websites shows that while all Seattle neighborhoods have at least 10% of residents identifying as People of Color, South Seattle neighborhoods average nearly 70% People of Color.

“The largest proportions of People of Color, particularly people identifying as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), live in Rainier Valley, Pioneer Square, and the Chinatown-International District. Latinos are the predominant group in South Park and Roxhill/Westwood, and Black communities are predominant in the Mt. Baker/North Rainier and Rainier Beach neighborhoods.”

The Racial Equity Research portal was created to “improve access to government racial equity data, identify root causes of inequities, and mobilize collaborations across City departments and community groups.”

The research portal is organized around six topic pages: Poverty, Racial Demographics, Food Insecurity, Health Disparities, Community Wealth, and Housing Affordability.

HomeSight Announces New Homeownership Fund Designed for Black First-Time Homebuyers

HomeSight, a South Seattle-based nonprofit community development financial institution and community development corporation, in partnership with Windermere Real Estate, U.S. Bank, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), announced the launch of a new loan product it says will increase purchasing power and help bridge the affordability gap facing Black homebuyers earning between 80% and 120% area median income in Washington State. The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund can give eligible borrows up to $12,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use towards their home’s purchase cost. 

Named after legendary Washington State Legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passing of the state’s Open Housing Law barring discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, HomeSight’s new fund hopes to be part of a solution that helps increase Black/African American homeownership in the state of Washington. 

According to a report by the NAREB, Black homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than white homebuyers. In Seattle, the Black homeownership rate is 25.8%, compared to 50.9% of white homeowners.

More information about the fund is available on HomeSight’s website at

King County Council Votes on Homelessness and Metro Transit Updates

The King County Council, on Tuesday, Dec. 7, passed its implementation plan for its Health Through Housing program to provide housing for up to 1,600 people experiencing chronic homelessness, establish an advisory council, and guide spending from 2022–2028.

“Health Through Housing is a regional approach to homelessness that will purchase facilities with single-occupancy units (such as hotels and nursing homes) and turn them into emergency supportive housing and permanent supportive housing. It is funded with a 0.1% sales tax that the King County Council passed in 2020,” a County press release said.

“In 2021, Health Through Housing expenditures went to purchase nine properties in Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Auburn, and Federal Way. King County anticipates acquiring three additional locations … The plan anticipates expending $333.7 million for capital financing and site improvements, $309.5 million for emergency and permanent supportive housing operations, $67.2 million for behavioral health services outside of Health Through Housing sites, $3.7 million to build capacity of agencies who represent communities disproportionately experiencing chronic homelessness, and $5.5 million for evaluation and performance measurement.”

“With the passage of this plan, we take another step towards implementing a real, proven strategy that will bring hundreds of our neighbors off the streets and into safe, stable housing,” said King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci said in a press release. “I appreciate the regional partnerships that will make it possible for us to provide infrastructure throughout King County. Health Through Housing will change lives and make our communities better.”

The Council also passed the Metro Transit Updates which it calls a “groundbreaking series of key policy changes that will influence the next 10 years of public transit investments across King County … this wide-ranging package will now influence future investments, transit service priorities, and more across the King County Metro public transit system, one of the largest systems in the United States.”

“This week’s vote is the result of years of hard work and demonstrates King County’s continued leadership in centering equity and investing where needs are greatest,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, prime sponsor of the legislation and chair of the Regional Transit Committee. “As our already robust transit system continues to grow, I take great pride in knowing these future investments will help reduce inequities and advance our ambitious climate change goals.”

For more information about the Metro Transit Updates, check out King County Council’s press release.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

Ongoing Booster Vaccine Trial Seeks Vaccinated Volunteers

From UW Medicine: “Researchers are still enrolling study participants who have not already received a vaccine booster against SARS-CoV-2. The Gritstone second-generation COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial is testing the safety, tolerability, and immune responses stimulated by different doses of investigational booster vaccines.

“The study is recruiting COVID-19-vaccinated persons who have not yet received a booster vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Read the full news release for more information on the study and requirements to participate.

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