The Central Area Senior Center and Byrd Barr Place have served the vital needs of tens of thousands of seniors, working families, and students for decades. Please Councilwoman Sawant and community members next Tuesday, April 23, to build the campaign for these vital institutions to be held for the public good in perpetuity by ensuring swift transfer of property.
1:30pm press conference – first floor of City Hall
2pm City Council Equitable Development Committee meeting
How our community can win urgent property transfers of the Central Area Senior Center and Byrd Barr Place to maintain them as public good in perpetuity.
Last fall, the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 31856, calling for Mayor Durkan to transfer these properties to community non-profits no later than the end of March. The Mayor has missed this deadline, and community members are demanding urgent action.
The Central Area Senior Center and Bryd Barr Place are jewels in our community, annually providing essential services to thousands of Seattle residents, especially seniors, low-income people, and working families.
Byrd Barr Place, founded originally in 1964 as the Central Area Motivation Program and housed at 18th and E. Cherry St., strengthens our community with advocacy and a range of services to keep people safe and in their homes. Byrd Barr staff and volunteers operate a food bank, run personal finance workshops, provide financial assistance for renters facing eviction, and offer energy assistance programs to help families pay their bills.
The Central Area Senior Center, on 30th Avenue in Leschi, is a daily beehive of activities for seniors, including exercise programs, computer classes, guitar lessons, card clubs, language lessons, crafting clubs, and recreational trips. Five days a week, The Central’s in-house kitchen serves hot meals to seniors.
The groups that operate The Central and Bryd Barr Place have documented to the City their capacity to manage these properties. Furthermore, Bryd Barr Place is at risk of losing a $1,455,000 state grant if it does not obtain ownership or a long-term lease by June of this year.
At a Central Area Senior Center community meeting this past Monday night, attended by 150 seniors, I heard speaker after speaker express dismay and indignation at the Mayor’s delay. They pointed out that The Central occupies land that is coveted by for-profit developers for its location and view, and that the Mayor won her election with major backing from big developers like Vulcan and corporations like Amazon.
Seattle’s working families – young and old alike – are facing an unprecedented housing crisis, resulting in gentrification and displacement because of the domination of the for-profit market. The message I heard from the seniors on Monday night was loud and clear: We need to use our collective voice to defend affordable housing and our publicly-owned community spaces from corporate developers!