In South Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood, Polar Cleaners has made its home at the southwest corner of Rainier Square Plaza for almost 50 years. As the only safe laundromat in the area, Polar Cleaners has become a community lifeline and place for neighbors to gather.
Owner Bonniejean Crone worked at the laundromat for over 30 years and took over the business in April of last year. Today, she is fighting to keep her neighborhood business after Kimco Realty, a real estate corporation headquartered in New York that recently bought the property, abruptly terminated her lease and threatened to move in new tenants. News of this sudden termination spread throughout the community, with many neighbors sending flowers, writing letters, and protesting the removal of their beloved laundromat.
House Our Neighbors, the campaign pushing to bring social housing to Seattle, said that its ballot measure, Initiative 135, is unlikely to go before voters this November. But with no end in sight to the city’s runaway housing costs, organizers are still determined to put the proposal on the ballot as soon as possible.
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda’s JumpStart Housing Community Self-Determination Fund promises to allocate 13% from JumpStart’s progressive payroll tax to support community-based organizations (CBOs) and their efforts to combat displacement, gentrification, and housing insecurity. This fund comes out of JumpStart Seattle, which was approved by Seattle City Council in 2020 to raise money for affordable housing and small businesses by requiring large businesses to pay a tax for all Seattle employees who make $150,000 a year or more.
Cindy Jones framed the conversation with one statistic at the Develop-Meant For Community town hall held Thursday, June 30, by the Rainier Beach Action Coalition: By 2025, Rainier Beach will see a minimum of 11,030 living units come online.
“Who Keeps Us Safe?” is a podcast by Asian Americans living in Seattle that explores safety, policing, and abolition in our communities and beyond. Join us monthly as we speak with organizers in the Seattle area, and reflect on their work and learnings. We hope that our listeners will use this podcast to begin and/or supplement their own conversations about safety and policing in their own communities. This is a project of PARISOL: Pacific Rim Solidarity Network, a grassroots anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, Hong Konger, Taiwanese, and Chinese* diaspora group based in Seattle. PARISOL is dedicated to local & international solidarity, community building, cultural & politicized learning, abolition, and anti-racist work.
This episode was produced for the podcast Who Keeps Us Safe? (WKUS) and was previously released in September 2021. The production crew is a small volunteer team of community organizers: Andy Allen, Alex Chuang, Jenn Shaffer, and Ryan Fang. Together, they record their conversations with other Seattle organizers and explore the idea of community safety. For their second episode, they caught word of a demonstration sponsored by the CID Coalition, where they were protesting the opening of a building which houses high-value, luxury condominiums in the Chinatown-International District (CID). The demonstration took place on June 25, 2021. Later, the WKUS team sat down with some members of the CID Coalition to talk more about gentrification and how this connects with ideas of safety.
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.
After a concerted effort to acquire the building and to stave off any potential displacement of families, the Brighton Development Group (BDG) is in the process of purchasing The Arches Apartments building in South Seattle.
Despite higher offers from other bidders, BDG now has the purchase of the building under contract after they promised to keep all of the families who are currently living there in place and not raise rents, according to Curtis Brown, who has been advocating for the purchase and is the executive director of SouthEast Seattle Senior Foundation.
From 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m five days a week, Tori Shao works as a landscape architect. But after work and on weekends, Shao is creating artistically — whether that be making, bottling, and designing labels for small-batch hot sauce for friends, starring in a Vanity Fair video with her sister, or quite literally painting the town red as a local muralist. Since late 2019, Shao has also had a ceramics studio space as a tenant at Inscape Arts. Last year, the owners of the former Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) building — which houses Inscape — listed the building on the market, putting Seattle’s largest artist enclave at risk for redevelopment into commercial or residential spaces.
Before she could begin negotiations with Curtis Brown to sell The Arches Apartments, longtime South Seattle matriarch Barbara Chamberlain passed away. Now, three months later, the property is up for sale for a whopping $6.35 million, putting 25 families at risk of displacement.
Seattle City Councilmembers Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda sponsored an online forum on July 22 to explore issues surrounding displacement and exclusionary zoning that could fundamentally change the way Seattle grows in coming decades.