Over the past four years I have been honored to work with you as we advance community priorities in the City of Seattle. By building coalitions, together we have advanced equitable community investment and created new partnerships to build a more equitable, vibrant, and just city. I am tremendously proud of what we have accomplished.
I wanted to share with you the news that I will be stepping down on March 26. This year is a year of transition and opportunity, and I’m excited to take on unique challenges and give back to the community in new and exciting ways, including continuing some community engagement this Spring on the $100 million for BIPOC communities.
With your steadfast advocacy, we made great gains for the Seattle community. Implementation of Mandatory Housing Affordability will add thousands of affordable homes to the City’s housing portfolio, with more than $66 million in funding secured to date. Our Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) has taken off, going from a pilot with one-time funding to a fully sustained program with dozens of projects working to keep our communities of color grounded in Seattle. Since 2017, in addition to EDI funds, these organizations have leveraged more than $105 million in other City funding. And when the community asked for consistent standards to transfer City-owned property to community based organizations, my office established the Mutual and Offsetting Benefits property transfers criteria, helping organizations like the Central Area Senior Center and Byrd Barr Place to own their properties in the historic Central District, which has seen the worst impacts of displacement and gentrification.
While I am looking forward to new challenges, rest assured the Office of Planning and Community Development will be in great hands. Mayor Durkan has asked deputy director Rico Quirindongo to assume the role of Interim Director. Rico has decades of planning experience and I have witnessed firsthand his commitment to urban development centered on community needs. Rico’s background in civic design through inclusive engagement will help advance the departments mission of taking an equitable approach to planning and community investment. Many thanks again to each of you. Your partnership and advocacy has helped shape a Seattle that is beginning to benefit all of our neighbors.
– Sam Asseffa