People in Skyway, southeast of Seattle and one of King County’s most racially diverse areas, have long pushed for their own community center. Now there are signs they’re making progress.
During the pandemic, nonprofits and social service groups have come together for what they call a pop-up resource center in Skyway. They’re holding another event Friday, Oct. 16, outside the New Birth Ministries Church.
Ryan Quigtar is executive director of the nonprofit Renton Innovation Zone Partnership, one of the groups that have organized these events, which are modeled after farmers markets. They’ve been restricting the number of people allowed to enter to maintain physical distancing and distributing personal protective equipment, he said.
“We were passing out early learning STEM toolkits, folks were passing out diapers, we also had a refrigerated truck where we were giving out produce and food boxes from the USDA farm-to-home program,” Quigtar said. “A little bit of everything — trying to keep it in one place.”
There also have been groups offering rental assistance, bike repairs, support for people experiencing homelessness, and drug and substance abuse assessments, Quigtar said.
And now the pop-up center has been designated as an EnVision Center by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the second such center in the state, after one in Spokane. EnVision Centers are centralized hubs offering people resources and support. Quigtar said that designation does not come with money attached, but could help attract grant funds in the future.
And King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay has proposed $10 million in the county budget toward a permanent community center, Quigtar said. That would be part of a proposed $50 million bond measure from the county.
Quigtar said the pandemic has only increased the need for some kind of central spot for helping people connect with resources.
“For us to be able to provide this breadth of services, hopefully we can fill some of those gaps,” he said. “We know it’s not inside, and we know it’s not the ideal situation, but at the same time, people are struggling. We needed to do something.”