Seattle: Ensuring there is a place for everyone
Seattle is booming. It's safe to rely on the anecdotal evidence on this one. Every week there are stories about the number of people moving here, concerns about rising costs and increasing traffic, the exodus of artists and non-tech workers, and the crazy housing market. Even if you don't read the news or talk to people, the crane-dotted skyline and new apartment projects show that the city is growing fast. That growth brings economic benefits. For example, the massive tech companies in Seattle offer jobs that help people start careers and gain experience. But the rising costs present challenges for the residents here who aren't participating in the hotter sectors of the economy. This is not a new story. People whose incomes are flat often have to move further out or seek less expensive options nearby. Moving can be stressful, especially if it involves moving further away from family, friends, neighbors, and services.
On Tuesday 19 December 2017, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) and Environmental Works (EW) hosted an open forum to solicit community input on its plans for an "LGBTQ-affirming senior housing" space on Capitol Hill. According to a CHH brochure, CHH and EW intend to build "affordable homes for low-income seniors and a hub for the LGBTQ community" that will help ensure that the seniors are able to remain in the supportive community that they helped create.
For decades, Capitol Hill has been a center of arts and culture, a landing place for newcomers to the city, and a safe and welcoming home for Seattle's LGBTQ community." ~ Capitol Hill Housing brochure
The event, held at The Summit on Pike, was a refreshing change of pace with respect to public discussions. The tables were packed with people politely and enthusiastically discussing their ideas about the features and services that designers and architects should consider when simultaneously building homes and a community. The facilitators took the ideas seriously, sometimes discussing how similar features had been included in previous projects. When I left, there were approximately 7 large pieces of paper on the walls filled with ideas. I've included some of them below (paraphrased). I've also added some photos at the bottom.
- It would be important to have a community room. I'd love for there to be a place where residents could gather for tai-chi or yoga.
- The space should be inter-generational.
- The design should support people who are aging in place.
- We are an active community. We would want space to exchange ideas. A space that would allow NGOs to visit.
- I doubt we'd have many noise complaints, but it would be nice to have a building manager. If an issue did come up, it would save us from having to confront one another, which can be difficult. (The noise complaint line got a lot of laughs.)
- Ensure that it is energy efficient.
- Space for classes and art. A welcoming environment for kids to visit.
- WiFi. (That comment was met with nearly unanimous applause.)
- We're getting older, but we're still very much living. It needs to be a living space, not somewhere to move us to the side.
- It would be great to have a technology room for people who can't afford those sorts of resources on their own.
Note: Thanks to Capitol Hill Seattle for tweeting about the event. That's how I learned about it. I regret not grabbing one of the Bahn-mi sandwiches, they looked delicious.