Mayor Jenny A. Durkan applauded the City Council’s unanimous passage of her proposed legislation to permanently transfer the Central Area Senior Center (CASC) to community ownership and establish a 99-year lease with Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) for Fire Station 6, two Black-led community organizations in the Central District. These property transfers build on the September transfer to Byrd Barr Place, another Black-led advocacy organization, and the first organization to complete the property transfer under the community requested criteria.
“We must continue to act with urgency to increase opportunities for our communities that have been historically held back, and working with community in recent years, we have been able to transfer properties in the Central District and Rainer Beach back to community. The Central Area Senior Center and Africatown will continue to provide much-needed services for the Black community,” said Mayor Durkan. “Building on the City’s work to transfer properties, stop displacement, and build more affordable housing, the Equitable Communities Initiative will provide $100 million in investments into communities impacted by systemic racism to promote true economic opportunity and equity across our City.”
Community leaders came to the City asking for a consistent transfer criterion for Mutual and Offsetting Benefit properties, where non-profit organizations lease or transfer City-owned properties due to the benefit of the services provided. Born from that request was the development and implementation of a consistent mutual and offsetting benefits transfer process.
“Mayor Durkan’s transmittal of legislation to the Seattle City Council for the permanent transfer of the Central Area Senior Center property back to the community and the Council’s vote affirming this transfer, ensures the vision of its African American founders and community partners keeping their promise to be good stewards to seniors and the community,” said Dian Ferguson, Director of Central Area Senior Center. “Collectively we celebrate our vision coming to fruition.”
“We’re excited to bring this important space back into service for the community. The William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation & Enterprise will provide space for cultivating the genius and connecting our community’s legacy of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship with the economic opportunities and growth that is happening in the region as a part of the global economy,” Said K. Wyking Garrett, President & CEO, Africatown Community Land Trust. “This is a testament to the resilience of so many community members that have contributed over the last eight years and we look forward to working with the city and many more partners to remove systemic barriers and build the solutions we need for an equitable Seattle. This is a step towards a better future.”
The Central Area Senior Center (CASC) and Fire Station 6 are in the heart of the Central District (CD), a community that has endured rampant displacement. In 1990 the CD had close to 60 percent black residents, today that number is closer to 25 percent. CASC has been a recreational home to Seattle’s African American elders, providing a social atmosphere that includes exercise programs, computer classes, recreational trips and more. Since 1975, the City has owned the Central building where CASC has called home. Fire Station 6 will be the future home of Africatown’s William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation, and will serve the community with small business assistance and skills training while celebrating the Black culture and history in the Central Area.
Byrd Barr Place and Africatown’s William Grose Center were each selected as part of the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) receiving $1 million to upgrade facilities while on the path to ownership. The full list of EDI funding awardees is listed below. The EDI program was developed to fund capacity building and capital investments for community-based organizations working to address displacement pressures and supporting community health and vitality, and Mayor Durkan has proposed ongoing funding for this program. Since 2016, in total, $31 million has been provided to community organizations. In the coming weeks, the next $5.8 million in awards will be announced as part of 2020 awards.
EDI currently partners with 25 organizations:
Last month, Mayor Durkan launched the Equitable Communities Initiative (ECI), to invest $100 million into Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities as part of the 2021 budget to address inequities caused by systemic racism and institutionalized oppression. This new investment, augments the City’s race and social equity investments that are ongoing.