by Elizabeth Turnbull
On Tuesday morning, local leaders and community members celebrated the completion of an affordable housing development in the Central District that specifically aims to make owning a home financially viable for residents.
As part of a concerted push against gentrification in the Central District and to combat rapidly rising housing costs, the Village Gardens development consists of six market-rate units and 10 affordable homes.
Local leaders such as Mayor Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, and Africatown Community Land Trust’s CEO K. Wyking Garrett spoke to the importance of the buildings and of the efforts of the community to bring it to reality.
“The ability to have homeownership in this city is one of the only ways that we can continue to combat the racist redlining history that is still plaguing cities like Seattle across this country,” Mosqueda said. “Homeownership is the antidote to not only redlining but the racist bank lending strategies, the restrictive zoning covenants that are in the city, and the inability for folks to get out of generational poverty.”
The majority of the affordable homes are available to residents who make less than 80% of area median income, and two of the homes are available to people who make 60% of the median income and are experiencing housing insecurity.
The homes are located at the corner of Yakima Avenue South and South Irving Street, on land provided by the City of Seattle, which provided funding alongside the State and the Federal Home Loan Bank.
Homestead Community Land Trust, Edge Developers, and Africatown Community Land Trust were key to the creation of the project itself.
At a time in Seattle’s history when many homes cost close to $1 million, the affordable condo units in Village Gardens range from roughly $230,000 to $300,000. As of yet, the market-rate housing units have not been priced on the Village Garden website.
In addition to being affordable, the development has prioritized sustainability and environmental friendliness, as all units aim to meet a specific environmental standard and are fossil fuel-free.
Gentrification in the Central District — following a history of redlining which prevented many families of color to buy homes in the district — has specifically contributed to a decline in Black homeownership, and the units could provide a small push against similar displacements in the present day as individuals with historic connections to the neighborhood will be offered a first chance to purchase a home.
TraeAnna Holiday, a local activist, creative director of King County Equity Now, and a well-known host at Converge Media, spoke to her personal experience and the changes and gentrification she has seen since.
“My mother and I would drive down 23rd [Ave] for years and just cry because we just didn’t recognize it as our town.” Holiday said. “[This housing] is an example of so many more that we hope to come again, with all of the new policies and legislation that are being passed, being intentional to do things that are repairing those past harms, literally providing reparations through the land and through projects like this.”
Editors’ Note: This article was updated to clarify that the history of redlining prevented families of color from buying homes.
Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.
📸 Featured Image: (From left to right) Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Africatown Community Land Trust CEO K. Wyking Garrett, King County Equity Now creative director TraeAnna Holiday, and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell attend an April 26, 2022, celebration for the completion of Village Gardens, an affordable homeownership development in the Central District of Seattle. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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