To King County Executive Dow Constantine & County Council members,
The Chinatown-International District (CID) is too familiar with this lack of government engagement and accountability with publicly funded projects. The Seattle Navigation Center is a prime example and still impacting the CID, specifically Little Saigon, today.
As a local community organization, the Friends of Little Saigon (FLS) first received news of the SODO Enhanced Shelter through email in late March. This email included a facts sheet and a note to circulate it around. No further communications came out after this. As the information got to the CID Public Safety Council, they requested that King County attend the monthly meeting to present on the project. This meeting occurred in June. Although there was dialogue and questions were raised, it was not clear how the County would engage the broader community.
Earlier this year, FLS called together community members along with the City, County, and State to collaboratively work on immediate and long-term solutions to the violence and criminal issues happening at the corner of 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street. We met every other week to talk through issues, concerns, and recommend solutions. One of the outcomes of the bi-weekly Little Saigon safety meetings was a Neighborhood Safety Model. This model focused on community collaboration, coordinated outreach and services, and the partnership amongst all stakeholders involved, including government. But at none of these meetings did we hear about this expanded shelter or about the services planned a couple blocks down the street.
The Little Saigon community, your regional constituents are frustrated by the lack of attention and coordination around this SODO Enhanced Shelter. It makes us question the months of engagement and relationship building we were doing with the various agencies involved, specifically with King County.
As a community, we recognize the need for an emergency response during this health and safety crisis, but it needs to be done in a way that is culturally competent, effective, and collaborative.
The process thus far has not taken into consideration the community it is impacting and has only exacerbated the problem. With high numbers of concentrated crimes and people experiencing homelessness, coupled with low-income seniors, families, and small businesses that lack access to culturally competent services, leads to further disenfranchisement of our community’s ability to break out of this cycle of poverty and thrive as a community.
We are in alliance with our community members who are calling for more extensive community engagement from the County and to start discussions around mitigating community impacts. The Navigation Center Community Response Plan completed in 2017 is a place to start. The CID has been through this before and continues to see the harm it has caused the community when our local government chooses to bypass a thoughtful process. The Response Plan demonstrates the level of community engagement needed, clarifies the issues and concerns with the project, highlights the impact on the community, and provides recommendations for mitigation measures.
FLS requests that the County work towards repairing these relationships in the CID, acknowledge the concerns and harm this project has on the community, and work towards strategies to mitigate the impacts in the CID.
— Quynh Pham
Friends of Little Saigon