Good afternoon, Mr. Mundt:
I’m writing today regarding City of Seattle’s funding for the proposed enhanced shelter to be operated by Africatown at the former Keiro Nursing Home site. I’m dismayed to learn that the City of Seattle, waving honest democratic budget practices and under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions, has decided to fund an organization to operate a homeless shelter that has no experience operating a homeless shelter. Even organizations with experience operating homeless shelters are finding it difficult to manage their operations under the current conditions. We only need to look at the failed Navigation Center as an example.
In addition, the City is encouraging this much-needed program that will be tailored to meet the specific cultural needs of the Black community, even though this proposed shelter is to be located in the midst of a traditional Asian and Japanese community, which has lived and owned property there since the early 1900s. A community where 30% of its residents were incarcerated without due process in 1942, a community with many Asian churches, a long-standing Japanese martial arts center, and many other social and Asian cultural programs. Also unaddressed, there is great concern for the safety of over 250 senior residents of Midori, Wisteria, and Kawabe housing in the neighborhood. Why is the City pitting one community of color against another, rather than promoting unity, cooperation and joint governance, program and property ownership?
The City also hired people to promote this program by using terms such as “inclusive” while in the same breath saying don’t fight it because it’s a “done deal.” So much for requested honest community feedback.
Members of the Japanese and Asian community would like an explanation of why Africatown, an organization with no experience whatsoever running a homeless shelter, was chosen to operate this homeless shelter in our neighborhood, South of the Canal, with a sole source contract and without an RFP process?
Given the importance of this land to the Japanese and Asian community, we would also like to understand why we were not consulted initially on this possible agreement and what the City hopes to accomplish by excluding the Asian community from the planning and decision-making process.
Many Japanese lost their homes and property on this block in World War II, but this is still our important community. Therefore, we want to have a say in the future development of the Keiro nursing home property and surrounding area.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
— Tomio Moriguchi
CC: State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, State Rep. Sharon Tomiko-Santos, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle City Council Members, and Seattle Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell.