“The New Heart of the U District”

Standing next to the construction site for University Commons, Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), addressed the crowd: “We are calling this the new heart of the U District.”

Spirits were high and the sun beamed down on a crowd of around 80 folks who came out to celebrate the groundbreaking of our new food bank at University Commons last Tuesday, the 16th. Words like “partnership, collaboration, and opportunity” were echoed as our supporters spoke of the benefits this new building will bring for underserved populations in Northeast Seattle and its potential to shape this neighborhood and beyond.

The ceremony began with introductory remarks from our Executive Director, Joe Gruber.

“We have found broad support for the vision of University Commons, a vision of increased opportunity for formerly homeless young adults, integrated with a food bank better and more respectfully able to meet the needs of a changing community, alongside affordable housing that helps protect much needed economic diversity and preserve our neighborhood character.”

Speakers included City Council member Kshama Sawant and former Council member Sally Clark, Senator Jamie Pedersen, the Seattle Director for Senator Patty Murray, representatives from LIHI, YouthCare, Office of Housing, Keybank, Impact Capital, and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. The speakers emphasized the importance of this partnership between our food bank, LIHI, and Youthcare to help meet the needs of low-income people in our community. LIHI announced their affordable housing units will be named after Marion West, a civil rights champion. In the 50’s, West rented out rooms in her U District home to people of color at a time when they were restricted from living north of the Ship Canal.

Remember, we still have a ways to go in our Fight Hunger Build Hope campaign and your support is still needed! Donate here.

Thanks to all who came out in support of our groundbreaking and we look forward to seeing you this time next year for our ribbon cutting!

Here is the KING5 story on the groundbreaking, featuring an interview with Joe.

Council member Sawant

Sally Clark

Senator Pedersen

Funders and Partners

Food Bank volunteers: Ria, Robyn, Erica, and Julia

Kyle (Ostara Group), Joe, and Paul