Seattle: Housing Commissioner resigns over Yesler Terrace Gentrification

KOMO News. August 9:

Seattle Housing Authority Board Commissioner Yusuf Cabdi announcing his resignantion

Yesler Terrace residents and neighbors packed a city council meeting Wednesday night to express their concerns with the neighborhood redevelopment plan, which has caused so much controversy that one Seattle Housing Authority commissioner announced he was resigning.

Seattle Housing Authority Board Commissioner Yusuf Cabdi announced his resignation while standing at the podium with a group of Yesler Terrace residents behind him for support.

Cabdi told the council that he felt SHA has no clear plan to move low-income families while ensuring their businesses and lifestyles remain intact.

“It is the Seattle Housing Authority’s job to help low-income families have housing, not to take that away from them,” Cabdi told KOMO after the meeting. “I want to make sure the mitigation is less severe to the tenants, and if the tenants are relocated, we need to make sure that everyone will be housed and treated fairly and respectfully.”

Cabdi, who has worked with Somali and Muslim family and housing issues since 2003, said that SHA didn’t have enough options for the redevelopment plan, which will replace 561 aging housing units in Seattle’s oldest publicly subsidized housing community where 1,200 people live.

“All (the city and developers) said was, ‘this is the best option we can do, let’s go for it and do it,’” he said.

Supporters of the redevelopment, including the YWCA, however, applauded the city at the meeting for creating a plan that aims to create a walkable, multi-income neighborhood while ensuring low-income residents are counseled about their moving options during the 10 to 15 year plan.

The first set of low-income housing residents will likely begin moving out in 2014, according to SHA , but that doesn’t necessarily mean the residents will have to leave the neighborhood.

“Our Board of Commissioners has a long history of good discourse and honest give-and-take over many issues related to low income housin,” says SHA Chair John Little. “I’m disappointed that Commissioner Cabdi chose to resign instead of working through his concerns with the Commission.”

Seattle City Council Chambers is holding another meeting on Yesler Terrace today at 9:30 a.m.

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