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Groundbreakings and Grand Opening are Good News for Parents

When the weather warms up in Seattle, out come the diggers! If you’ve spent much time with young children, you’ll know “diggers” is the favorite preschool-yard term for excavators. So yes, it’s diggers season here at HSD, and the construction projects we’ve been celebrating most often lately are new early learning facilities.

Three different sized dirt excavators, or "diggers," at the "Four Amigos - Beloved Community" site in Columbia City.

Over the span of one week in June, HSD staff had the privilege of attending three construction milestone events: two groundbreaking ceremonies and one grand opening. HSD made capital funding awards to all three developments, and all three will result in new licensed child care and preschool programs.

Combined, the projects will serve approximately 273 more young children aged from birth to five years old annually. The early learning facilities will provide new job opportunities for local child care workers and early childhood educators. The centers will make it possible for more parents to find meaningful work outside the home. Perhaps most exciting, all three centers will be co-located with new affordable housing developments. This means many of the children enrolled in the new centers will live just above their classrooms.

13th & Fir Family Housing

On Tuesday, June 13, Ken Astrein and Ramlah Ringold Olt from HSD’s Federal Grants Management Unit attended the 13th & Fir Family Housing ribbon-cutting ceremony. Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), Denise Louie Education Center (DLEC), and Community Roots Housing hosted the event, which included a tour of the facility. The Ribbon Cutters included, from left to right: Seattle Deputy Mayor Greg Wong, DLEC graduate Xiu Wen Li, City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda, DLEC Executive Director Susan Yang, Seattle Office of Housing Director Maiko Winkler-Chin, SCIDpda Co-Executive Director Jamie Lee, SCIDpda Co-Executive Director Jared Jonson, Community Roots Housing Executive Director Christopher Persons, and Seattle Housing Authority Commissioner Gerald Smiley.

HSD contributed $2.5 million in Child Care Bonus Program funding to support the DLEC development, which expects to open for programming this fall. The center anticipates being licensed for 97 child care slots, infant through preschool age. DLEC will prioritize special needs, foster, and formerly homeless children in their enrollment. Since the child care center is co-located with new affordable housing managed by SCIDpda, DLEC expects most of the children in their program will live in the facility or in the immediate vicinity.

We recently highlighted Denise Louie Education Center during our National Community Development Week focus on a few of the community partners who receive community development investments. This is not the first time HSD has been able to support DLEC in this model of co-locating child care facilities with new affordable housing built in places with easy access to the transportation, recreation, and other amenities that all families need to succeed. View photos and an article about the Mercy Magnuson Early Learning Center which we also previously supported.

El Centro de la Raza’s “Four Amigos – Beloved Community”

On Wednesday, June 14, Ramlah traveled to Columbia City for El Centro de la Raza’s “Four Amigos – Beloved Community” groundbreaking event. HSD is contributing $2.5 million in Child Care Bonus Program funding to this planned new location of the El Centro de la Raza José Martí Child Development Center. The child care center will be co-located with new affordable housing, Consejo Counseling Services offices, and new worship space for the Church of Hope. The center will include four classrooms (two preschool and two toddler rooms) and it is expected to be licensed for 68 child care slots. Under code requirements, at least 20% of the children served in the center must come from families with incomes at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) for at least 20 years.

El Centro supports the co-location model mentioned above, and their organization is also involved in the community development of the housing units. This location of their Child Development Center will join other existing and future sites in Seattle that offer high-quality dual-language early learning education for children ages 1-5, including a proposed facility in Northgate and another at the redevelopment of the PacMed building on the north slope of Beacon Hill that are also receiving capital funding from HSD.  These projects will join other HSD-funded projects operated by El Centro at their Plaza Roberto development and at Hirabayashi Place in the International District.

The people who helped shovel the first bit of earth included State Representative Sharon Tomiko-Santos, Executive Director Estela Ortega and her grandchildren, Associate Director Miguel Maestas, City Council Members Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda, and Director of Seattle Office of Housing Maiko Winkler-Chin.

ReWA Northaven

And on Thursday, June 15, Ken and Ramlah also attended the ReWA Northaven Groundbreaking Ceremony. Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Northaven Senior Living, and developers BarrientosRYAN and Gaard Development celebrated Nook at Northaven, part of an innovative, multi-generational campus that leverages shared use of spaces with forward-thinking concepts of intergenerational programming. The project co-locates 89 affordable workforce housing units with ReWA’s new early learning center, which will be licensed for 108 young children.

The building will sit adjacent to Northaven Senior Living’s existing buildings and allow for programs such as partnering children with elders for classes, mentoring and tutoring, health and fitness, creative activities, gardening, games, and meals. The project will provide a shared outdoor space that is fully landscaped with a recreation area that will allow seniors, families, children, and youth to play, garden, and recreate together, bridging generations and communities. Construction is estimated to last until December 2024.

HSD awarded $1.5M of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery (CLFR) funds to the project as part of last year’s Child Care Facilities RFP. The workforce housing is being funded by the Gorder Family Foundation, the Echo Fund through Realize Impact, BECU, Seattle Office of Housing, and Amazon Housing Equity Fund.

“There is a tremendous need by the community to have accessibility for birth to 5-year-old child care. This investment was vital for ReWA to expand its programming in meeting the demands and needs of low-income, immigrant, and refugee children to have an opportunity to thrive in a high-quality early learning environment in which their identity and home languages are supported and strengthened as they transition to kindergarten,” said Susan Lee, Director, Early Learning Centers Operations, at the time of the award.