Equitable Development Initiative

What is Equitable Development?

Equitable development means making public and private investments in neighborhoods that support those most in need and that considers past history and current conditions so that future outcomes are equitably distributed, both for those currently living and working in Seattle, as well as new arrivals.

The Equitable Development framework supports two equity goals: Strong Communities and People as well as Great Places with Equitable Access. Six Equity Drivers are key to achieving equity objectives:

  • Advance economic opportunity. Promote economic opportunities for marginalized populations and enhance community cultural anchors. Provide access to quality education, training, and living-wage career paths.
  • Prevent residential, commercial, and cultural displacement. Enact policies and programs that allow marginalized populations, businesses, and community organizations to stay in their neighborhoods.
  • Build on local cultural assets. Respect local community character, cultural diversity, and values. Preserve and strengthen cultural communities and build the capacity of their leaders, organizations, and coalitions to have greater self-determination.
  • Promote transportation mobility and connectivity. Prioritize investment in effective and affordable transportation that supports transit-dependent communities.
  • Develop healthy and safe neighborhoods. Create neighborhoods that enhance community health through access to public amenities, healthy, affordable and culturally relevant food, and safe environments for everyone.
  • Enable equitable access to all neighborhoods. Leverage private developments to fill gaps in amenities, expand the supply and variety of housing and employment choices, and create equitable access to neighborhoods with high access to opportunity.

The Equitable Development Framework guides how the city prioritizes its work; shapes its budgets, policies, programs, and investments; and structures the implementation of targeted strategies and equitable development projects by using clear objectives for reducing disparities and achieving equitable outcomes for marginalized populations.

Equitable Development Fund & Interim Advisory Board
In the fall of 2016, the City signed an agreement on the pending transfer of the Civic Square property next to City Hall, with $16 million in proceeds to establish a Equitable Development Implementation Fund. The 2017 budget includes a $6.5 million loan from this sale as well as $200 thousand in ongoing funding from the General Fund $430 thousand in Community Development Block Grants. These funds will support:

  • Community Capacity Development – active engagement with organizations representing historically underserved communities, communities of color, and communities at risk of displacement.
  • Real Estate Development – predevelopment (site acquisition, feasibility studies, operations), development (tenant improvements, building construction, renovation).
  • Entrepreneurship and Talent Development – community wealth creation, business support.

An interim advisory board is being established that will help determine criteria for projects and programs that will receive Equitable Development funding in addition to the projects listed below.

Equitable Development Implementation Projects
Five community-driven projects have been identified through inclusive community engagement processes that helped create the Equitable Development Initiative. These projects include:

  • Multicultural Community Center
  • Rainier Beach Innovation District
  • SouthEast Economic Opportunity Center
  • William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation
  • Little Saigon Landmark Project
  • Equity Transfer of Development Rights for Affordable Commercial Space

Project Documents

The Equitable Development Initiative builds on the Equitable Development Implementation Plan and Financial Investment Strategy that were adopted by City Council in 2016 as part of our Comprehensive Plan – Seattle 2035.

Other documents related to Equitable Development and Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, which is the City’s commitment to eliminate racial disparities and achieve racial equity in Seattle.

  • Executive Order 2015-04: Directing the creation of a new executive office to coordinate planning and implementation to build thriving and equitable communities
  • Executive Order 2014-02: Affirms the City of Seattle’s commitment to the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), and expands RSJI’s work to include measurable outcomes, greater accountability, and community-wide efforts to achieve racial equity in our community.
  • Race and Social Justice in the 2017 Budget Provides an overview of the major citywide initiatives underway and specific projects and programs that will help create a more equitable city.
     

 

Background

Seattle has grown rapidly in recent years, but the benefits and burdens of growth have not been shared among our communities. Disparities persist in income, unemployment rates, homeownership and even life expectancy. Our plan for growth moving forward, Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan, envisions Seattle as a diverse city where all people are able to achieve their full potential regardless of race or means.

  • The Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) addresses displacement and the unequal distribution of opportunities to sustain a diverse Seattle. The EDI fosters community leadership and supports organizations to promote equitable access to housing, jobs, education, parks, cultural expression, healthy food and other community needs and amenities.
  • During the 2016 budget cycle, the Mayor committed $16 million in proceeds from the sale of the Civic Square property to establish the EDI Fund. Council approved an interfund transfer loan of $6.5 million to be used on EDI projects in advance of the completion of the Civic Square transaction.
  • Since late 2016, directors and staff from OPCD, OED, OH, DON, OPI and OCR in consultation with CBO have been working together to create an EDI program that includes a formal granting program, detailed criteria for funding projects, governance processes, and a staffing plan.
  • EDI Subcabinet Directors recommended the City invest $6.5 million in the four neighborhoods where the proposed place-based projects are located (Chinatown-International District, the Central District, Othello and Rainier Beach) for capacity building, pre-development, and capital investments. The initial investment would be based on project funding criteria that are being developed.
  • EDI Subcabinet Directors also recommend investing the remaining $9.5 million plus any leveraged sources in neighborhoods with a high displacement risk throughout the city, including the five projects specifically identified on the Equitable Development Plan (see attached diagram).
     

Timeline

The EDI fund will follow an annual grant cycle that is coordinated with other City grant funding sources. The process to distribute up to $6.5 million through an interfund loan specifically targeted for community-identified projects in five EDI communities has begun and is being administered as a first round of the EDI funding process. Subsequent rounds of funding will be available to qualifying projects and programs beginning in early 2018. The following outlines the anticipated and the proposed process and timeline for the second round of funding.

  • Summer 2017: EDI Fund Outreach - Community groups understand EDI funds available for five initial projects (plus potentially a small amount available for other work in these neighborhoods).
  • Q4 2017: Pre-application hearings - EDI staff and community groups have a shared understanding of how EDI funds can advance the projects.
  • Q4 2017: EDI Fund round 2 RFP released
  • February 2018: Proposals submitted - Community groups submit proposals that formally request funds and outline deliverables.
  • February 2018: EDI staff, EDI advisory board, and Investment Committee review proposals and determine fund awards.
  • March-April 2018: Funding decision/contracts signed - EDI staff prepare contracts that articulate deliverables.
  • Ongoing: EDI contracts and project management - EDI staff and work with community groups to advance deliverables and report on progress.