The Creative District presents a unique opportunity to focus on more equitable economic development and recovery, education and workforce development as well as provide support for local businesses and community members. Housing and anti-displacement is crucial key component for economic development. We know we need more housing, all housing types. But we also know that displacement doesn’t just impact residents, it also impacts our small neighborhood shops and businesses as well. Businesses serve as key community hubs and lend themselves to the fabric and vibrancy of the neighborhood. Much of our work with commercial affordability, housing and anti-displacement strategies centers the needs of our community first helping to work directly with businesses and advocate for policies that create more opportunity and less hardship within our economic ecosystem. That means we’re thinking creatively about finding solutions to these challenges-Land Trusts and, Public Private Partnerships, are a few of the solutions that we’ve seen work in our community, and we hope to leverage the creative district to encourage and support more community led creative solutions to help guard against displacement and create more economic equity.
Strategy 1: Advocates: policies that increase housing and neighborhood choice to create more accessible, plentiful, and diverse housing opportunities across the city. Zoning must be racially inclusive and create more housing choices for our communities while centering BIPOC communities most impacted by historic wrongs in our zoning, lending, and land use systems.
A. Encourage improvements to traditional planning and land use systems
Example: Usually, we ask for input and what we really need to do is engage throughout the full process and trust community to lead and engage with leadership development. We can do this by empowering community leaders and lift up and leverage city and community assets
Ensure there are community navigators to help create more access. In many places, there isn’t a lack of programs to support, but there’s a lack of awareness, understanding and utilization. Creating a cohort of developers-share knowledge improve efficiencies.
The Creative District is an opportunity to not just create the programs and rely on the government to outreach and engage but will invest in working with community partners that have the relationships needed and the trust built to really improve access and engagement.
Strategy 2: Recommends: increasing the supply of affordable housing, particularly units that are community controlled with long-term affordability provisions and to consider developing a fund to support the acquisition of units with expiring affordability requirements that could be used for community land trusts or other cooperative homeownership models, along with affordable homeownership opportunities in neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family homes.
A. The Creative District can serve as primary convener and sharing resources-helping to connect and encourage more public/private partnerships.
Example: The City acquires land, where investment can be leveraged -move into land trust with a public private partnership. There is still huge wealth disparity in our communities and that impacts housing with lower skilled and underemployed workers living further away from employment centers and spending time commuting that they could be spending on learning new skills. It all contributes to a cycle of poverty that we see played out in our community with families working multiple minimum wage jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. The Seattle Metro Area is an expensive place to live. Creating public private partnerships and encouraging land trusts as a model to increase affordability is an effective strategy to guard against displacement.
Strategy 3: Focus on Equity: The City’s current growth strategy of concentrating housing, businesses, and job growth in the TOD (transit oriented development) needs to have racial equity and sustainability at the forefront.
A. There is a housing affordability crisis, a displacement crisis, and homelessness crisis stemming from the lack of affordable housing options and legacy of discriminatory policies, a land use system that forces communities into auto dependence, and disparities in housing among BIPOC communities (with disparities in eviction, displacement, homeownership, homelessness, and more).
Example: The Creative District can encourage a truly equitable, sustainable, and climate resilient growth system for Burien by convening discussions surrounding what constitutes success. Focusing and centering community to lead and define what success looks like is key. Wealth disparity has not decreased since the City was incorporated in 1993.
Strategy 4: Increase paths to Homeownership: Alarming but not surprising. The Seattle area ranked in the bottom third of large metropolitan areas for Black and Hispanic representation in tech jobs and management roles. Only 8% of high-growth firms are owned by people of color (but represent 35% of the workforce).
A. The Creative District will leverage strategies to center access to high growth workforce opportunities, progressive wealth building opportunities, and long-term affordable housing for historically excluded communities in our comprehensive planning.
Example: The pandemic has really showed us the disparities in our community-one of the greatest ones being digital literacy skills and access to internet. Support services such as childcare, expansion of apprenticeship programs so workers can earn while they learn and investing in technical assistance/community navigators to prioritizing access is huge and needs to be front and center of our work. The District will focus programs and initiatives to:
- Invest in digital upskilling
- Support more agile workplaces-liability is always a key component
- Create a comprehensive approach to retraining
- Expand Apprenticeships.