I am provoked to write you by a recent flyer I received in the mail from the “Downtown Seattle Neighbors Alliance” (DSNA) about a housing project of the Plymouth Housing Group (PHG).
My family and I enjoy living in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. We are active members of the community, love and enjoy many of the amenities that downtown living offers like restaurants, theaters, museums, parks, the waterfront, and even schools for our young daughter. Since 2010 I have also operated the Belltown-centric news outlet @BelltownBuzz.
I am not in any way affiliated with PHG, but as their neighbor for over a decade I am familiar with their great mission and good work. In contrast, I have never heard of the DSNA. Their flyer omits any identifying details of its organizers beyond an email address (cc’ed above).
With the above qualifiers, I’d like to suggest you consider several other key pieces of information missing from DSNA’s flyer and map:
- Middle- and High-income housing – The DSNA map indicates over a dozen low-income properties across Belltown, downtown, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill. This same region has seen huge growth in the development and availability of middle- and high- income housing in recent years. Whole blocks have been gentrified or re-developed year after year. Within the sightlines from my apartment building at 1st & Broad I count 10 new 12-story condo properties that did not exist 10 years ago. And growing in-city employers like Amazon will drive development of more such properties. Were these properties also shown on the map, you’d see how the properties of PHG and similar groups serve a necessary end of the housing spectrum.
- Residency & apartment size figures – The DSNA map omits any mention of the number of people or the size of the apartments in the properties shown. When most of the condos on my block are dual-tower properties housing ~300 people in studios, 1-bedroom, and two-bedroom units that start at $175,000, PHG’s 63-person low-income project seems very reasonable.
- Locations & Timeframes –The DSNA flyer doesn’t specify the exact location of the PHG project they’re concerned about (I imagine it’s 2013 3rd Avenue) or the nearby “crime hot-spot”. I do know from living in the neighborhood for 10 years that “crime hot-spots” move around. It’s entirely possible this one does so too before PHG opens their building in 2015.
- Location-decision factors – The DSNA map doesn’t explain why so many social service agencies are already co-located downtown. I suspect it’s a neighborhood-scale version of “the wrap-around”: a case management technique in which case workers from diverse social and health agencies who support the same individual coordinate their efforts and share information in order to provide more effective support to the individual. If residents of PHG’s new building work at or receive support from more than one agency downtown, I imagine they’d benefit from having those agencies close together. 2013 Third Avenue also seems a terrific location for PHG because of the large North/South bus stops on the same block.
- Tom Douglas restaurants – There are 7 concentrated in the DNSA map’s boundaries, almost as many as there are social service agencies.
Finally, I’m unfamiliar with one expression DSNA uses in its flyer: ‘non-worker housing’. I don’t know how one distinguishes the home of a ‘worker’ from a ‘non-worker’. If this factor is a real part of the issue, couldn’t the DSNA’s organizers address this easily by offering their new neighbors jobs? That would strengthen the ‘ramp’ to sustainable independent living that organizations like PHG, Farestart, and others are trying to build for downtown residents.
Thank you for your consideration, and please let me know if you have questions.