Screenshot depicting an altar designed with the colors of the Ethiopian flag and laden with sunflowers as well as other traditional ceremonial objects.

Ethiopian Community: A Video Portrait of Generational Wealth-Building Through Affordable Housing Development

by Ronnie Estoque

In 1980, the Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS) was formed to create a community of support for immigrants in the local area. Language and cultural differences create barriers for new community members seeking to access services, and the ECS has made it a priority to provide job, housing, health care, and legal assistance to those seeking support. At its core, the ECS has heavily relied on volunteerism within its community of over 5,000 members across King County to continue to help new immigrants coming to the U.S. nearly four decades later.

Seven years ago, the ECS began noticing that rising rent prices were displacing some of their membership from the local South Seattle community. Elders within the community organized and made it a priority to advocate for an affordable housing development, which was eventually brought to Olympia for funding.

Other fundraising efforts and private/public grants have brought the vision for the Ethiopian Community Village to life, and this coming April they anticipate the opening of their 90-unit affordable housing development for seniors in Rainier Beach. Construction of the building began in August of 2021, and a housing steering committee representing local community leaders helped guide the project throughout its timeline.

This series is supported by the City of Seattle’s Generational Wealth Initiative. The South Seattle Emerald and its contributors maintain full editorial control over all its coverage.

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: Screenshot from “Ethiopian Community in Seattle: A Video Portrait of Generational Wealth-Building in Seattle” by Ronnie Estoque.

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