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Building community and creating affordable housing opportunities Steve Walker, Acting Director

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Community Cornerstones LogoCommunity Cornerstones implements the vision of the Southeast Seattle community as detailed in recently adopted Neighborhood Plans. $3 million from a HUD Community Challenge Planning Grant and $5.9 million in local public and private sources are funding a new model for equitable development that supports the existing economically and culturally diverse residents and businesses while also welcoming new ones.

Success Through Partnership

The City of Seattle Office of Housing manages the Community Cornerstones Program in partnership with the Office of Economic Development, Department of Planning and Development, and the Department of Neighborhoods. Additional partners include: the University of Washington, Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Impact Capital, and the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund.

Featured News and Events

Major Activities

  • Equitable Transit Oriented Development Loan Program—Improve the vitality of the community by helping housing developers purchase three vacant properties near light rail stations for mixed-use projects that include affordable family sized housing and commercial space to accommodate small businesses and community facilities. Developments will provide 295 units of affordable housing and over 40,000 square feet of commercial space. Three awards were made in 2013 and 2014; El Centro de la Raza’s Plaza Roberto Maestas, Mercy Housing Northwest’s Myrtle Street Apartments, and Catholic Housing Services Elizabeth Thomas Homes project.
  • Commercial Stability Strategy—Help stabilize and grow small immigrant and refugee owned businesses in the multicultural business district between Othello and Graham streets by providing a variety of workshops and one-on-one technical assistance such as product marketing, lease education, or bookkeeping. A coalition community leaders and partners, called On Board Othell, are working on a shared vision of economic development in the neighborhood, including business district marketing and new business attraction.
  • Building Community Capacity to Plan for a Shared Multicultural Community Center—Strengthen the existing culturally and ethnically diverse community by building out a network of cultural centers and planning for a new shared multi-cultural center. Consultants and capacity building grants supported the formation of an effective, authentic, and durable Multicultural Steering Committee. This steering committee is creating the organizational infrastructure and preliminary feasibility analysis needed as the foundation of the center. Community meetings will occur throughout 2015.

Public Participation Plan

Department of Neighborhoods contracts with Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons (POEL) and provides support to community-based organizations to engage communities in Southeast Seattle in each of the major activities. POEL outreach and support is ongoing throughout 2014.

Program Evaluation

The University of Washington is evaluating the major activities and provides annual performance reports as well as a report at the end of the grant term capturing lessons learned and recommendations for reproducing the activities in other areas. Read the 2012 evaluation here >


  • POELs begin community outreach
  • Multi-Cultural Community Steering Committee formed
  • Equitable TOD Loan Program is designed
  • Rainier Valley Community Development Funds hires business technical assistance staff
  • Homesight provides Othello business district marketing services
  • First Equitable TOD loans are provided
  • Vacant commercial space technical assistance is provided
  • Othello and Graham businesses are served by program
  • Cultural center feasibility report in process
  • Multi-Cultural Community Steering Committee host community planning meetings
  • Additional TOD loans are provided
  • Othello and Graham businesses are served by program
  • UW program evaluation report released
  • Cultural center feasibility report released


Full Report


Organizational Chart

Key Contacts

Program Manager
Ryan Curren, Office of Housing
(206) 684-0362

Cultural Center Planning
Nora Liu, Department of Planning & Development
(206) 233-7036

Commercial Stability Strategy
Heidi Hall, Office of Economic Development
(206) 733-9967

Public Participation Plan
Cherry Cayabyab, Department of Neighborhoods
(206) 733-9982

Performance Evaluation
Dan Carlson, University of Washington
(206) 616-5815



Important Links

North Rainier Neighborhood Plan

Othello & Beacon Hill Neighorhood Plans

Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan

Seattle Comprehensive Plan

Vision 2040

Growing Transit Communities

HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities






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