October 24, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 43

News

At forum, Lake City residents blast plan for housing

by: Aaron Burkhalter , Staff Reporter

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The city of Seattle wants to replace Fire Station 39 in Lake City with 50 units of housing for people making less than 30 percent of the area median income — $26,000 for a family of four.

Although the housing complex would likely house families with children, Lake City residents are opposing it, in part, many say, because of the single, homeless adults who loiter in front of businesses, vandalize property and defecate in front yards.

At a community meeting at Nathan Hale High School in Lake City Oct. 15, most residents were against replacing the fire station with housing.

Others said it should not be built in Lake City at all.

“Other neighborhoods need to step up their game here,” said Lake City resident Dave Morris. “We’ve done our share.”

The crowd agreed on several points: The city has ignored Lake City’s need for public amenities, pushed through projects for the poor and homeless despite protests from the residents and will likely ignore residents’ opposition this time as well.

Kristin Church, who recently bought a home in the area, said Lake City has too few parks and recreational facilities.

Instead of housing, she wants the fire station to become a park or indoor community center and said the city could find space for a low-income housing complex elsewhere in the neighborhood.

“You can build it [the housing] next door to me, and I would think it was a better solution,” she said.

Many echoed a suggestion to trade property with the owners of Bill Pierre Automotive, who are exploring the possibility of redeveloping several car lots in the neighborhood.

A few people came to support the idea of new public housing. Lake City resident Sally Kinney said other neighborhoods are also rejecting housing and shelters for those who need them.

“My feeling is that we have to recall that we are not only a neighborhood, but part of a city,” she said.

The strong opposition to public housing disappointed Melanie Neufeld, a minister at the Seattle Mennonite Church in Lake City, which operates a hygiene center for homeless people.

She said the homeless in the neighborhood largely come from Lake City and have lost their jobs or suffer from mental illness.

“For the most part, it’s people who have strong connections to Lake City,” Neufeld said.

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