by Agueda Pacheco Flores
A long-awaited community center and affordable housing complex in White Center will break ground later this year.
The White Center Community Development Association (WCCDA) received $4.9 million from the state’s Housing Trust Fund in December of last year.
Aaron Garcia is the project planner and a lifelong White Center resident. He says the WCCDA hopes to break ground on the project in July. The new HUB and the additional 76 units of affordable housing will be located at the former public health center on 8th Avenue, near Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. Current estimates show the housing development will cost around $40 million and the community center will cost about $28 million. Although most of the funding has already been raised.
The White Center HUB, which stands for “Hope. Unity. Belonging,” will house the WCCDA as well as classroom space that is accessible to the community. Additionally, the HUB will also offer mental health services for youth with the help of their community partners, Southwest Youth & Family Services and HealthPoint.
Garcia grew up in White Center and says this is something the community has been asking for for more than two decades. The arrival of the HUB is a huge win for White Center, an unincorporated King County community that has historically gone without adequate investment and support from the county.
“We’re a small fish in a big pond,” Garcia says of the support the area gets from the county. “As a result, it’s taken a while, and I’m starting to see it a lot more where there’s an intentionality among our council to do work and support and dedicate resources to unincorporated areas, but it’s still not proportionate to the need that these communities are facing.”
With the rise in the region’s cost of living, affordable housing is one way Garcia says the WCCDA is trying to develop the area without displacing more communities and adding to gentrification. White Center has historically been a home for immigrant communities such as Southeast Asians, Somalis, and Latinos. Garcia says real estate prices aren’t what they used to be. Unlike his father, who was eventually able to buy a home in the area working 80 hours a week, it’s unlikely someone could do that now.
“I don’t think there could be a current immigrant that works just as hard as my dad who can afford the $600–$700,000 homes in White Center that we were able to get for like $300,000,” he says. “So from that perspective, there’s no opportunities for folks to get rooted beyond maybe affordable housing opportunities.”
The affordable housing will be for families and individuals that earn between 30% to 60% of the area’s median income. Garcia says the WCCDA also wants to add a coffee shop to the future HUB.
“There’s a need for a cultural space like this, just a gathering space, so it’s kind of been a big thing for the CDA for a while now,” Garcia says.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 02/28/2023 to clarify the funding milestones for the White Center HUB.
Agueda Pacheco Flores is a journalist focusing on Latinx culture and Mexican American identity. Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Pacheco Flores is inspired by her own bicultural upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and proud Washingtonian.
📸 Featured Image: A rendered image of the future White Center HUB. (Image courtesy of White Center Community Development Association.)
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