In an effort to help empower community efforts to curb displacement and build a more affordable future for Southeast Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Office of Housing recently announced the awarding of $4.92 million to support the development of the first City-funded housing cooperative at Othello Square, which will include 68 permanently affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom homes.
Othello Square is a multi-strategy, community supported neighborhood “gateway center” designed to address displacement of both residents and businesses in Southeast Seattle adjacent to the Othello Light Rail Station. The project will be home to 68 permanently affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom homes, and will include a HomeSight Opportunity Center with post-secondary education, job services, small business assistance, affordable commercial space, as well as additional market rate and affordable homes.
The Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and the Rainier Valley Leadership Academy (RVLA) High School will also be part of the Othello Square Campus. Homebuyers must meet income limits and earn 80 percent of the Area Median Income or below, $80,250 for a family or four, in order to purchase a home.
“This development is proof of what can happen when community comes together and is empowered to imagine a better Seattle. We must continue to act urgently to protect against gentrification and displacement and make it possible for families and businesses to stay in Seattle,” said Durkan. “As Seattle has grown, we have seen far too many communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, pushed out of their homes.
With our investment in Othello Square, we are helping ensure families and small business owners can stay in their neighborhoods and have more access to true economic opportunity.”
According to officials, these Office of Housing-funded homes will help first-time homebuyers build equity and stability through the Limited Equity Co-op model where each resident owns a share of the housing. To ensure these homes remain affordable, re-sale prices are restricted so that future low-income homebuyers have access to the same opportunity to build equity.
“I am proud we are making this continued investment and standing by our commitment for this one of a kind center in Southeast Seattle that will provide a pathway to economic opportunity,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “From the very beginning of this project’s vision, it has been a collaborative partnership with residents, business owners, community groups, education organizations, and HomeSight to make this a reality.”
“This investment through the Limited Equity Co-op model by the Office of Housing opens up homeownership opportunities for a wider range of Seattle residents,” said Jennifer LaBrecque, Acting Manager of Policy and Equitable Development for the Seattle Office of Housing. “Community ownership provides us with another tool to provide long-term, sustainable affordability and address displacement of long-time residents.”