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Vision: Bringing Home a Better Future

Yesler Terrace logoThe new Yesler Terrace is envisioned as a dynamic and welcoming urban, mixed-use community with convenient connections to nearby neighborhoods.

The initial impetus for redevelopment was the deteriorating condition of the housing at Yesler. However, the vision for the new community goes beyond replacement of the housing stock. It imagines a place where people live in healthier housing that is part of a wider, healthier community - a place where the renewed physical environment is matched by strong social connections, access to education and economic opportunity.

Working with the community

Central to the vision of bringing home a better future is working closely with residents and stakeholders to create the new community through a transparent and participatory process. A Citizen Review Committee has played a central role in guiding the process and estabilishing important Guiding Principles.

The Guiding Principles, adopted by the Seattle Housing Authority Board in 2007, have grounded the planning process in four core values - social equity, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship and one-for-one replacement housing.

Working with partners

Renewal of the housing affords the opportunity for partners across the city to work together to realize a vision for a new residential neighbohood adjacent to downtown and within a mile of 25 percent of the city's jobs.

While the Housing Authority focuses on renewing and adding to the low-income housing, local government, nonprofit partners and private businesses will participate in adding office uses, middle-income residential, retail and neighborhood services.

New parks and open spaces will enhance the area, along with native landscaping, improved streets, and pedestrian and bike amenities. The new Yesler Terrace will be a safe, healthy and sustainable community, incorporating green design practices and enhanced transportation alternatives (including a new street car).

This renewed urban neighbohood will blend with and enhance the surrounding neighborhoods. It will be an exciting community where people across a wide income spectrum come to live, work, learn and play.

Photo gallery of Yesler Terrace's past, present and future

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A creative mix of new housing

The new Yesler Terrace will house more people than today's community, with residential units, commercial, retail and open public spaces. This dynamic mix will allow Seattle Housing to minimize external funding for the project and to use proceeds from the sale of market-rate housing and commercial properties to fund additional low-income, workforce and affordable housing. The mix of housing in the new Yesler Terrace is envisioned as follows:

  • 661 units serving people with incomes below 30 percent Average Median Income, consisting of 561 units to replace those currently there and 100 additional units developed with partners
  • 290 additional low-income units serving people with incomes from 30-60 percent AMI
  • 850 workforce housing serving people with incomes below 80 percent AMI
  • 1,200-3,200 market-rate housing units

Improving community resources
and services


Social infrastructure in the redeveloped Yesler Terrace, such as the tutoring program currently offered by Catholic Community Services, will be vital to the health and success of the neighborhood.

With its partner organizations, Seattle Housing hopes to further Social Equity and Economic Opportunities at Yesler Terrace by expanding resources most critical to the quality of life of residents.

Seattle Housing has partnered with Building Changes, a Seattle-based nonprofit that unites public and private partners to end homelessness, to lead the Yesler Terrace “social infrastructure” planning effort. For the past several months Building Changes has worked with the existing Yesler Terrace community, including the Citizen Review Committee and Community Council, to identify the programs and services most critical to the quality of life and opportunity for residents.

As defined within the Guiding Principles, Social Equity “ensures that residents at Yesler Terrace today are treated fairly, and that the new community will be a culturally and economically diverse place where everyone can share in the advantages and amenities of the new neighborhood.” As part of their recommended services, Building Changes suggested ways to continue to promote social equity through:

  • Educational attainment opportunities for children and youth, such as early childhood education services and tutoring;
  • Opportunities for adults, such as partnering to provide entry-level or college preparatory courses and strategic training that results in certifications and/or degrees that align with high-demand occupations, particularly in health care; and
  • Coordinated youth-focused services that cultivate learning, supporting, creating and having fun in a safe environment, either through strengthened partnerships on-site, transportation to partner sites or to a Youth Center.

Economic opportunity, as defined within the Guiding Principles, is “the means of improving the overall economic conditions, opportunities and quality of life for current and future generations at Yesler Terrace. It means creating living wage jobs for residents by developing partnerships with nearby businesses and institutions.” Building Changes’ suggestions include focusing on case management, computer lab access, asset building and financial literacy services and services to support small businesses.

For example, the Pathways out of Poverty program--a partnership with the Workforce Development Council and Seattle Vocational Institute--has created 40 jobs and 30 training opporunities for low-income people. Seattle Housing is also exploring opportunities for healthcare training as part of a new $10 million grant the Workforce Development Council received.

As the Yesler Terrace redevelopment moves forward, Seattle Housing will consider the recommendations provided by Building Changes as staff negotiates service partnerships and space allocations.

To access the final Building Changes report.

More information about current services available to Yesler Terrace residents.

Benefits for residents

High quality housing and economic opportunity

  • Modern, healthy, energy-efficient housing designed for the needs of current and future residents.
  • Improved and expanded programming for social services, job creation and business development.

A vibrant neighborhood

  • 15.9 acres parks and semi-private open spaces for leisure, gardening and play.
  • An economically and racially diverse residential community.
  • Active arts and cultural programs.
  • Safety through active community life and well designed public spaces.
  • Housing, shops, community gathering places and jobs.

Improved connections

  • Enhanced transit opportunities with the construction of the First Hill Streetcar.
  • Safe, convenient and enjoyable walking and bike routes.
  • Easy connections within the neighborhood and to adjacent neighborhood retail and employment centers.

Benefits for Seattle

  • A renewed and vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood.
  • New jobs, during and after construction.
  • New housing close to jobs and public transportation—25 percent of all jobs in Seattle are within a one-mile radius of Yesler Terrace.
  • Additional residents to support growing businesses in the International District, Squire Park and First Hill.
  • An increased inventory of new rental apartments for families who need low-income, workforce and affordable housing.
  • A new neighborhood that models community health and environmental sustainability.