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 1,030 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.
This Saturday, May 14, Inscape Arts will host a Spring Open House highlighting some of the impressive artists and studios in residence at the former Immigration and Naturalization Services building at 815 Seattle Blvd. S. The event was organized by Friends of Inscape, a group dedicated to preserving the historic building after it was listed for sale in 2021 and put at risk of redevelopment. The Spring Open House is another way that Friends of Inscape hopes to showcase the history of the space and its current use as an artist enclave with strong roots in the Seattle community and deep personal and historical resonance for many. Inscape has been closed to the public for the past two years, and the Spring Open House will mark the first time since the start of the pandemic that the building has opened its doors to the public.
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.
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.
The former Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) Building in the CID has lived many lives: It was built in 1932 to detain and deport Chinese immigrants during the Chinese Exclusion Act era. It held Japanese American men before they were sent to local incarceration camps during World War II. It deported thousands of immigrants and refugees throughout the 20th century, and naturalized others. And after it was vacated as an INS building in 2004, it lived again as the home of Inscape Arts. With over 125 tenants, Inscape offers the largest working arts and creative space in Seattle.