A Link train passing through Othello Station with transit oriented development in the background

Repurposing former construction sites in Rainier Valley for affordable housing and youth support services

Publish Date

The Sound Transit Board today approved next steps towards affordable home ownership development in the Rainier Valley, while preserving the opportunity for a new Youth Achievement Center near the Columbia City light rail station.

Affordable Homeownership

The Board’s action authorized staff to negotiate an agreement with the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing for permanently affordable housing development on ten sites in the Rainier Valley.

When Sound Transit built Link light rail through the Rainier Valley, we purchased several small pieces of property for construction adjacent to the line. Now that these sites can be put to a different use, Sound Transit is partnering with the Seattle Office of Housing to make these sites available for the development of affordable homes for purchase. The initiative originally included 12 sites near the Mount Baker, Columbia City, and Othello light rail stations.

This homeownership initiative was formulated in response to community concerns about displacement pressures in the Rainier Valley and interest in homeownership as a tool to help low-income families and communities of color increase financial and housing security. In 2019, we embarked on an equity-focused engagement effort to learn about community priorities and gather feedback on this initiative. The full report can be found here.

To maximize affordable housing outcomes on the sites, we have worked carefully with the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow us to avoid any repayment of grant funds to the Federal government, allowing us to make these properties available to the City of Seattle at no cost.

Next steps include finalizing the terms of our agreement for the affordable homeownership initiative with the Seattle Office of Housing to reflect community feedback and work towards transferring ten of the original 12 sites to them.

Youth Achievement Center

Since our engagement efforts last year, we heard strong support for making two Columbia City sites available for a Youth Achievement Center.

The new facility would provide residential space and wrap-around services for youth who are housing unstable or impacted by the legal justice system. The project goals and vision align with Sound Transit’s in addressing displacement, creating affordable housing and equitable outcomes on property we no longer need for construction or operations. It also aligns with the feedback we received from the engagement process on providing more spaces for youth in the community.

Given the community support and the alignment with our goals, we have focused our efforts for the affordable homeownership initiative on ten of the twelve original sites, to allow for a new Youth Achievement Center on the two Columbia City sites.

We’ll continue to partner with King County, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, Africatown Community Land Trust, Community Passageways, Creative Justice and others to provide property for a new Youth Achievement Center near the Columbia City light rail station. We look forward to continuing this important work for the communities we’re proud to serve. You can track both efforts progress here.