Crosscut Blog delves into White Center’s Changing Character
Vashon resident, author and contributor to the Crosscut.com blog, Daniel Jack Chasan, has a couple of informative posts on current developments in White Center. The first post, “Gentrifying White Center” deals generally with the issue of affordable housing and how it is being impacted by gentrification and more specifically by the Greenbridge Project. Greenbridge is housing development of mixed income community taking shape in the old Park Lake housing project site. The model for Greenbridge is the Holly Park development in the Rainier Valley. Chasan points out the paradox that bedevils the economic revitalization of previously poor areas such as White Center. In the process of providing new jobs, businesses and higher income residents the area pushes out the very people who it was designed to assist. In the process, the area loses the flavor that the refugee and immigrant community imparted to the neighborhood. As well, Chasan takes King County to task for reducing the number of affordable housing units. I am not sure that I feel quite as pessimistic about gentrification destroying the character of White Center but Chasan’s concerns are certainly valid.
The second post by Chasan, “Social Progress in White Center” deals more broadly with the various social initiatives by foundations such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The White Center Early Learning Initiative is nicely described. As with the first post, Chasen voices some concern for the changing character of the community. This post is a good primer for anyone wanting to understand some of the dynamics at play in White Center. Unlike the housing issue, it is hard to fault a program that invests heavily in the betterment of children. All the more so, as success would mean that the Initiative would become a model for other communities. In any event both posts are highly recommended reading.
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