Pastors and advocates present the New Hope Baptist Missionary Church and the land taken from it as a stark example of the obstacles black communities have faced during decades of systemic racism.

Beginning in the 1960s, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, created what is known as the Model Cities Program. The aim of the program was to clean up “ravaged” areas in city centers by creating opportunities for urban development. As part of the program, which targeted the Central District locally, the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church was forced to sell land now part of Spruce Street Mini Park in Seattle for $ 34,000. The land, which belonged to New Hope until 1970, is now worth $ 2 million, according to the Low Income Housing Institute.

“The land has been unfairly taken,” Pastor Robert Jeffrey said in a recent interview. “We have proof that the pastor, the church, didn’t want to sell the land, but he was threatened that if he didn’t sell, they would take it for less money than they offered. So he gave in.

Jeffrey said he and others were considering other plots of land in the Central District taken from the black community. But for now, he wants a portion of the $ 18 million allocated for housing for residents with connections to the community generated by Seattle’s new annual large business tax to go to his church to build 90 units. affordable housing. The new business tax is expected to bring in a total of more than $ 200 million per year.

The community’s overall goal is for at least 1,000 new affordable apartments to be built over three years for historic residents and internally displaced people in the core area. In a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Council Jeffrey and two other pastors have also said they want to train students of color to help build some of the neighborhood’s new developments, including tiny houses.

Sawant said she had helped advocate for pastoralists’ goals to prevent poverty from worsening, citing the likelihood that a pandemic-related recession would harm Seattle.

“The only way to prevent this, the burden of this recession from falling on the shoulders of the working class in general, but more particularly on working class communities of color, is to do the exact opposite, that is- that is, invest in the community. She said, adding that this would include both new housing and construction jobs for the community.

Jeffrey said he also supported land claims from King County Capital Now, a community group behind the Seattle Police Fundraising Appeal. King County Equity Now wants to stop the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, a public housing complex in the Central District that is a mix of heavily subsidized and market-priced housing. The project is almost finished.

“In order to examine the legitimacy of a request, you have to look at what was promised,” explained Jeffrey, referring to the Seattle Housing Authority, which helped oversee the project. “They broke the promise to bring African Americans back into the community, and they broke the promise to include African Americans in the development process.”

Kerry Coughlin, director of communications with the Seattle Housing Authority, said former Mayor Norm Rice, a longtime African-American community leader, and black-led groups such as Africatown were intimately involved in the redevelopment of the property. Coughlin added that the redevelopment has created more affordable housing units, a large percentage of which serve blacks and people of color.

Coughlin said she also wants to make sure some of King County Equity Now’s proposals don’t have the unintended consequences of losing affordable housing. Another request from King County Equity Now – to build affordable housing on the Seattle Housing Authority’s operating site – would mean his organization would have nowhere to maintain 60% of its affordable housing units. Not all King County Equity Now requests are about affordable housing. The group is also asking that a central area nursing home – Paramount – which the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services acquired due to bankruptcy, be returned to black community ownership. . To free up hospital beds during the pandemic, the state bought the retirement home this year for $ 13.5 million.

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