Flo Beaumon, associate director at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, talks about the populations that will benefit from supportive housing plans at Fort Lawton.
Flo Beaumon, associate director at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, talks about the populations that will benefit from supportive housing plans at Fort Lawton.
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The Fort Lawton Redevelopment Plan is ready to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development following signing of legislation to push the affordable housing project forward.

Plans to create 237 affordable housing units for rent and homeownership on a portion of the decommissioned Fort Lawton Army Reserve Center were approved by a unanimous vote of the Seattle City Council on June 10, and Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the legislation during a ceremony at the site on Tuesday, June 18.

Emily Alvarado, acting deputy director of Seattle’s Office of Housing, said review of the plan should only take a few months, as it was built off the original 2008 plan approved by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2010. In that time, the city will work on conveyance and infrastructure planning, she said.

Prior to signing legislation, the mayor recalled the 1970 occupation of Fort Lawton by Native American activists, led by Bernie Whitebear, who founded the United Indians of All Tribe Foundation. Through that action, the federal government granted UIATF property on which its Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center now sits.

“But anyone who knew Bernie knew his vision for Seattle was much bigger,” Durkan said.

Whitebear had always envisioned creating housing on the former Duwamish tribal land.

“I guess housing wasn’t a strong concern back then,” said UIATF executive director Michael Tulee.

More than 40 years later, UIATF has partnered with Catholic Housing Services to create 185 affordable housing units at Fort Lawton. There will be 85 supportive housing units for homeless seniors and veterans, at or below 31 percent of area median income, and 100 affordable rental units. One unit will house a site manager.

“We’re going to combine forces and make it happen,” Tulee tells Queen Anne News.

Flo Beaumon, associate director at Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, said some of the seniors and veterans that will benefit from the supportive housing units are those among the city’s homeless population now, with wraparound services that include behavioral health and case management.

Habitat for Humanity is developing 52 units of affordable-ownership housing in the form of three-bedroom townhomes and six-unit row houses constructed with sweat equity. The homes will be roughly 1,200 square feet and available to families with up to six members, said Brett D’Antonio, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Seattle and King County. Those families will make less than 80 percent of the area median income, D’Antonio said, adding they will also need good credit in order to obtain a mortgage, which Habitat for Humanity will help make affordable.

The price tag for the nearly 240 affordable housing units is around $90 million, and it’s taken nearly 15 years to get to this point, BRAC having offered the Fort Lawton property to the City of Seattle back in 2005.

Magnolia resident and Discovery Park Community Alliance founder Elizabeth Campbell spent the better part of a decade fighting the project, arguing the site should be used to expand the 534-acre Discovery Park.

“I think, when they see this project built, they’re going to wonder why they didn’t do this years ago,” Durkan said of the project’s detractors.

While a third of the 34-acre Fort Lawton site has been rezoned to allow for multifamily development, 60 percent of the land will be used for greenspace, including a 13-acre addition to Discovery Park, as well as two athletic fields for Seattle Public Schools.

Durkan said the city should see more than 5,000 new affordable housing units created by 2024, and she is pushing to include them in every part of the city. She expects funding from the recently passed Mandatory Housing Affordability program to help with that effort.

“It’s never been more important in Seattle,” she said. “Our city has grown so fast.”

If everything stays on track from this point, people could be calling Fort Lawton home by 2026.