December 25, 2013
Vol: 20 No: 52

News

Seattle Indian Health Board wins in struggle over aging, embattled Leschi Center

by: Aaron Burkhalter , Staff Reporter

The Seattle City Council transferred the Leschi Center from the Seattle Indian Services Commission to the Seattle Indian Health Board.

Photo by: RC Staff , None

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At the Leschi Center, a two-story, tan-and-aqua adobe building at 611 12th Ave. S., the Seattle Indian Health Board is in and the Seattle Indian Center is out.

The Seattle City Council on Dec. 16 agreed to transfer the property from the Seattle Indian Services Commission to the Seattle Indian Health Board. The Commission could not afford to maintain the building and make payments on the $5 million in debt it owes on its properties.

The Indian Health Board, a medical care clinic serving 7,000 people, offered to take over the building. In its proposal, the Health Board said it needed the entire building. City officials say the Seattle Indian Center would have to move anyway, because the organization owed back rent. The Seattle Indian Center operates a meal program, hygiene center and hosts a SHARE shelter for 60 people.

Officials from the Seattle Indian Center protested the proposal and wanted to stay on site with the Indian Health Board. Instead, the city council passed a resolution to help the Indian Center find a new location to operate its programs.

The decision comes after years of debate about what to do with the Leschi Center and the Pearl Warren Building, across the street at 606 12th Ave. S. The Pearl Warren Building is in disrepair and will likely be sold to an outside buyer.

The Seattle Indian Services Commission failed as a landlord. The Indian Center owes the commission more than $100,000 in back rent. On top of this, a former commission administrator used the organization’s funds to pay off personal debts, according to a 2011 audit by the Washington state attorney general.

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