It’s been eight months since first word that the Downtown Emergency Service Center planned to build a “supportive housing” project at 5444 Delridge Way – downsized slightly to 66 units, each one to become home to a formerly homeless person living with mental illness and possibly substance abuse. Tuesday night, a new advisory committee met for the first time, expressly to listen to whatever community members wanted to say about the project, even if they had said it somewhere before.
The results are in our video clip, unedited, recording all 13 speakers, who comprised almost half the crowd. (There would have been more, suggested one speaker, if the community had any reason to trust DESC would truly listen and act on the concerns voiced.) They voiced concerns and criticisms, some with fury, some with disappointment, some with skepticism, some with scorn. While understanding the need for the work DESC does, this just isn’t the right site, many said – in one speaker’s words, putting an at-risk community on top of an at-risk community.
DESC director Bill Hobson is co-chair of the new committee, along with longtime community activist/advocate Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point. But this hearing wasn’t for back-and-forth discussion, or even for DESC to respond to concerns – it was meant to be 100 percent for anyone who wanted to speak, to do so.
Meantime, the project still has hurdles to clear – as reported here earlier this week, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission has a public hearing downtown at 1 pm Thursday for projects seeking Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, including this one; on March 8th, it’s the second Design Review Board hearing for the project. Other key dates and input opportunities are detailed here.