Photo depicting a dance performance and ceremony with individuals dressed in Indigenous Aztec garments.

Latino Organizations Find New Homes in Burien, Federal Way

by Agueda Pacheco Flores

Latinos in south King County now have more spaces to find educational resources, labor programs, and community. 

The Latino Civic Alliance and Casa Latina nonprofits each have new locations south of Seattle. Both cited the move in part due to the growing Latino communities that are being priced out of Seattle. 

Casa Latina, a 28-year-old Seattle-based community labor organization, laid roots down in Federal Way where U.S. Census estimates show Latinos make up 17.5% of the population. Casa Latina is best known for helping day laborers by advocating for their wages and connecting them with clients.  

Co-Executive Director of Employment Vania Adasme says the organization did community and member research a few years back. They found that many members were being priced out of Seattle and wanted Casa Latina to be closer to the South End. 

“We have to listen to the community,” Adasme said. “We only do what the community tells us they want.”

Adasme said Casa Latina chose their Federal Way location because it was close to transit, including the new light rail station that is set to open next year. 

For now, their new location is “domestic worker centric,” and is not dispatching day laborers. The organization has already started initial orientations at the new location, which can be found at 2158 S. 314th St. Workers looking for resources can drop by Monday through Friday without an appointment between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony with Casa Latina co-EDs and south King County staff during Casa Latina open house ceremony on July 27 (Photo: Sergio Mejia)
Blessing of the new location by Danza Azteca during Casa Latina open house ceremony on July 27 (Photo: JoJo Nieves)

Meanwhile, the Latino Civic Alliance (LCA), a statewide Latino advocacy group, found a home in downtown Burien, where U.S. Census estimates show Latinos made up nearly 23% of the city’s population last year. 

The Latino Civic Alliance has another location that provides mental health resources only a few blocks away from its new, official headquarters. The Latino Civic and Cultural Center in downtown Burien will double as a community meeting and creative art space. 

“At the core of it, we want to provide a space where Latino leaders can come together in the community to learn about civic engagement, education, how to get involved in local politics, what it means to vote, and how important it is to vote — especially since we’re one of the largest demographics in Washington State,” said board chair Nina Martinez, adding that it was a place to incorporate arts with politics as well. 

One of the main reasons Martinez says LCA chose Burien was due to the 2017 killing of Elizabeth Juarez. She says the death struck a chord with the organization that there was a gap it could fill for Latino kids and at-risk youth in that part of the state. 

Martinez said the space already has big plans for rotating art exhibits for up-and-coming artists. Pieces by local artists Fulgencio Lazo and Marcio Diaz are already gracing the center’s walls. The headquarters will also be home to after-school programs for teens from the Highline School District. Their inaugural visual arts and music production summer classes concluded last month. The organization partners with the district and reaches 300 Latino students yearly, 600 statewide. 

The Latino Civic and Cultural Center is located at 445 SW 152nd St. The gallery will be open to the public during Burien’s Art Walks, on every first Friday of the month.

Agueda Pacheco Flores is a journalist focusing on Latinx culture and Mexican American identity. Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Pacheco is inspired by her own bicultural upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and proud Washingtonian.

📸 Featured Image: Dance by Mitotilistli Centeotl and Apantecatl Chalchitlicue of Danza Azteca during Casa Latina open house ceremony on July 27. (Photo: JoJo Nieves)

Before you move on to the next story …

The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With around 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible.

If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn’t have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference.

We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!