(WCN photo from September 13th fire)
A month and a half ago, White Center community members launched a petition drive demanding King County do more to address the economic devastation caused by the recent business fires. Among the demands: “$2M emergency relief funding outside of (Department of Local Services) grants to assist fire victims and stabilize the White Center Business District’s rebuilding efforts in collaboration with community.” $2 million in help is on the way after a King County Council supplemental-budget vote today that included approval of the proposal by County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Here’s his post-vote announcement:
Following passage of a $672 million supplemental budget Tuesday, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott applauded the inclusion of $2 million for economic recovery in White Center following a string of fires and burglaries there. McDermott brough the funding as an amendment to the budget legislation.
“This investment in economic recovery will have a tangible impact on how the County can support the White Center community in the year ahead,” McDermott said. “From the pandemic to long-standing challenges for legacy businesses, this economic emergency brought on by the fires this year only heightened the need to ensure White Center can maintain an equitable, thriving community in the years ahead. I greatly appreciate my colleagues’ support for this community that, while struggling now, has incredible potential.”
The budget also included $175,000 for King County Sheriff’s Office overtime to help increase patrols in the area and funding for a new economic development staffer dedicated to the White Center community.
Multiple property fires this year damaged beloved businesses in White Center like the Locker Room Bar and Grill, Huong Xua Deli and others while subsequent window smashings and burglaries put the community on edge.
Local business owners submitted a petition to county officials, seeking direct aid to fire victims, funding for additional security in the community, a more transparent relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office and local fire departments, and staffing for one-on-one support for local businesses not only for recovery but going forward to help avoid displacement in the area.
The $2 million in funding will be directed by the Department of Local Services to additional business grants and other economic recovery strategies to be developed in conversation and collaboration with the community.