Activists are complaining that a state-mandated report on the impacts of razing Yesler Terrace, a low-income housing development on First Hill, leaves out one major result of the redevelopment: how many low-income homes will be replaced—or not replaced—when its redeveloped. "Not one of the alternatives studied indicates how many of the 561 units currently on site ever will be replaced and what the impact that loss would have on our city," writes the Seattle Displacement Coalition (SDC) and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness (ITFH) in a press release sent out today. The group says this analysis is "legally required" in the 700-plus page study, called a Draft Enivronmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and wants to see added to the final document.
But the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), a low-income housing provider that works in tandem with the city, says that those details aren't necessary—yet. Virginia Felton, spokeswoman for the SHA, says that the organization must first pick its redevelopment option. "We cover the basics that are now in the plan—the number of units, square footage of community and office space, acres of parks and open space, the basic overall street approach," she says. "Then we'll do after that is offer up (outside of the EIS) is a redevelopment plan that would specify how many one-bedroom, two bedroom, middle and low income units we can offer."
The crux of the argument is, the Seattle Displacement Coalition (SDC) and the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness (ITFH) are against the four plans being considered for redevelopment. They say that the SHA intends to flush out the poorest residents from the neighborhood (which is why, earlier this year, one of the groups attempted to block redevelopment altogether by having the site declared a historic landmark).
More after the jump.
Next Monday (December 13) is the final day to comment on four proposed options for rebuilding Yesler Terrace, potentially transforming the 561-unit public housing community into a mixed-income neighborhood with up to 5,000 units, commercial space, office space, neighborhood space (like for community and day care centers), and parks.
Activists say the SHA hasn't explicitly agreed to replace, one-to-one, all of the low-income units on the YT site—instead they can shuffle these people off into surrounding neighborhoods where they might not want to live. And they argue this gentrification isn't addressed in the DEIS, in which all the redevelopment options seem to assume that low-income housing will be entirely replaced on site.
Their full list of complaints is mighty lengthy but here are a few good nuggets:
"...there will be a dramatic reduction — perhaps a reduction by half — in the number of public housing units serving this group regardless of which alternative they pursue (other than the no action option). The DEIS contains absolutely no assessment of the direct, indirect, and cumulative effect of this loss [of this housing]. "
So they're demanding that the finished environmental study have these details—how many low income units will be preserved for each of the redevelopment options, what the plans for replacing the displaced low income units are, and what the funding sources for on and off-site units are—when it comes out in February. "This analysis also should include an examination of what happens to the displaced populations, where they go, what services they need, and are they going to be available in areas where they are displaced," the complaint states.