Capitol Hill Housing & Africatown — equitable development at Liberty Bank project.

Redlining left a legacy of racial exclusion which today’s growth patterns perpetuates.  Seattle non-profit, Africatown, has created a partnership with affordable housing leader, CHH, that bucks that trend, heals old wounds and establishes a model to emulate.

Africatown & Capitol Hill Housing partnership
The history of post-war redlining divested African Americans across the United States from home ownership and the opportunity for long-term wealth creation.  It also segregated them into the depressed neighborhoods, many of which are now experiencing gentrification as our economy grows and infill developers erect new projects.  The result is a modern-day redlining, displacing existing communities of color and driving a cultural diaspora of African Americans, perpetuating the cycle of divestment and instability.  One new African American led organization within the Central Area neighborhood, Africatown, is raising awareness of these impacts and working with public and private sector leaders to create alternatives models of more equitable development.

The Liberty Bank Building will provide an African American organization the option to own a significant real estate asset without contributing any equity.

One remarkable example is a partnership with affordable housing non-profit, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) on the Liberty Bank Building, a 115-unit project of affordable housing and commercial space at the corner of 24th & Union.  The partnership defines a series of commitments that ensure a more inclusive development process, creates jobs for people of color, and offers Africatown the option to take ownership of the property in 15 years, once the equity partners have full vested the tax benefits.  All of this with Africatown providing no equity.  Because the project will have still hold both public debt from Seattle’s Office of Housing and private equity, a key challenge of this partnership was agreeing on the capacity Africatown will be required to have in order to exercise their ownership option.  And, toward ensuring success, the partners also required a clear strategy and implementation plan that would outline how the organization would go about obtaining that capacity being the newly formed entity that it is.

FIX’s role
Capitol Hill Housing and Africatown jointly hired FIX to align the partnership around a common definition of capacity and to build a corresponding 15-year implementation plan.  Through the work, the engagement produced a portable business plan and framework for vulnerable populations to self-generate the capacity to be leaders in real estate within their communities, starting with consulting services and evolving into acquisitions and asset management.