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Equitable Development Initiative awards first round of funding

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) has announced $385,000 in grant awards in the first round of funding under the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), the City’s effort to help ensure Seattle’s existing residents and businesses in vulnerable communities enjoy the benefits of development around the city, rather than being displaced by it.

“The Equitable Development Initiative is about sustaining an inclusive Seattle, where everyone has a place to call home and a path to a positive future,” said Sam Assefa, Director of OPCD. “By fostering local leadership and local organizations, we can help create stronger, more resilient communities. We are excited to expand this program in the coming months to reach other areas of the city.”

EDI fosters community leadership and supports organizations to promote equitable access to housing, jobs, education, parks, cultural expression, healthy food and other community needs and amenities. The goal of the initiative is to reduce disparities and achieve equitable outcomes for historically marginalized communities.

EDI grants will be awarded to:

“The EDI Fund was created as a partnership between City planning that recognizes the challenges and threats faced by racially marginalized communities and neighborhoods,” said Tony To, Executive Director of HomeSight, a partner in the Multicultural Community Center project. “This collaboration was possible only because of the leadership of the Council, the Mayor, and years of dedicated collaborative effort of activists from Southeast Seattle, the Central Area, and the International District and Little Saigon. This first round of awards is the first step to give the power for those most impacted by displacement to have a lead role in determining our own fates.”

Since November 2016, OPCD and partner departments, including Office of Economic Development (OED), Office of Housing (OH), Department of Neighborhoods (DON) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), have been coordinating on the administration of the EDI Fund, which includes $16 million from the sale of Civic Square. Last year, the Seattle City Council approved an interfund loan of up to $6.5 million for access to the proceeds from the sale of Civic Square to support specific community-identified projects in Othello, Rainier Beach, Central Area and Chinatown International District/Little Saigon.

OPCD anticipates that an additional grant will be awarded this fall to support EDI projects in the Central Area.

OPCD and partner departments established an interim advisory board to help guide the EDI and to provide feedback and approval of the criteria and decision-making processes for the fund. The advisory board provided guidance and feedback on this first round of funding decisions.

Applications for Round 2 of EDI funding are expected to be released in late 2017.