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King County African-American Groups Call For Unified Agenda

Renderings courtesy of Mithun
Four community organizations signed a written agreement, committing to a new model of shared ownership for the community at the Liberty Bank Building in Seattle's Central District. Groundbreaking is scheduled for June 2017.

Six King County African-American groups are vowing to collaborate to break the cycle of poverty in their communities. The groups cite a growing wealth gap between blacks and their white neighbors.

A study commissioned by the organizations explores factors behind this disparity. The groups gathered stories from more than 500 African-Americans who live and work in the Seattle area.  

Many families said they were priced out of the city. Others left because it didn’t feel like home anymore.

Seattle’s rapid gentrification has made it difficult for African-American families to stay in historically black neighborhoods.

Andrea Caupain with the organization Centerstone says gentrification, inequities in education, and loss of personal networks have set the stage for lingering economic insecurity.

Caupain says one way to strengthen the community is to create a land trust, where affordable housing can be built and black-owned businesses encouraged.

"Having a place or a hub that once was in the '60s, where folks felt like it was home... if we can create that through the acquisition and maintenance of land for black people to feel that they can come home to, [that] is what we're hoping to achieve," said Caupain.

A similar project is breaking ground at the Liberty Bank Building in the Central District this summer.

Caupain says these are examples of how groups can successfully partner around a unified agenda.

“Those of us living the statistics understand that there is some onus on us and that we are prepared and poised to do what it takes to work with systems and with solutions to move the needle forward for ourselves,” she said.