Elana Dix, the Community Organizer for SAGE, is excited about the future. SAGE--formally known as the Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone--recently moved into a spacious office in the International District and plans to double its staff to four employees by the end of the year. The organization works to make local growth and development accountable to low-wage workers by advocating for living wage jobs and a better quality of life.
"We're in the midst of a lot growth for the organization," Dix says. "It really increases our capacity and the amount and depth of projects we can take on." Last year, the organization fought for rules that require developers to contribute to a fund for affordable housing in exchange for the city allowing taller and denser buildings downtown.
SAGE is currently working with the Dearborn St. Coalition for a Livable Neighborhood to ensure a neighborhood-friendly development takes place for the retail center proposed on the site of Goodwill Industries on Dearborn St. and Rainier Ave. S. The groups aim to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the developer. The developer would enter into the agreement to provide community benefits in exchange for the coalition's support of the project as it goes through the permitting process, according to Dix.
"It gives folks a voice to negotiate," Dix says. "If you're going to come in and make a profit and cause us traffic and pollution and affect the level of wages and affordability of housing in this area, we want to benefit, too." Dix says the overall goal is to change the way development is done in this area.
"People of all income levels should benefit from this prosperity and growth, and that is definitely not the case right now," Dix says. "We all deserve a voice in shaping the urban landscape."