LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Column doesn't give real story

It’s unfortunate that John Fox and Carolee Colter see redevelopment of Seattle’s Yesler Terrace neighborhood as a sad end, rather than an exciting revitalization that will serve many more people in need of affordable housing (“Yesler Terrace demolition a sad end to city’s legacy of public housing,” March 11).

What is unfolding at Yesler honors the historic and cultural richness of the community and the city’s legacy of public housing, by replacing worn-out, costly units with new housing, open space, community gardens, community centers and neighborhood services.

More accurate facts may support a better understanding. There are not $300 million tax dollars invested in Yesler Terrace redevelopment; between federal and city support, $47 million has been committed. It is possible an additional requested $16 million will be contributed by the city, which would bring total tax dollars to $63 million.

Of the approximately 5,000 housing units planned for Yesler, 1,800 will be affordable housing. The addition of market-rate housing to the neighborhood helps make this possible.

From the outset, basic tenets of redevelopment have been one-for-one replacement of the 561 housing units that existed for the lowest on the income scale — less than 30 percent of area median income — and re-housing at Yesler for any previous tenant wanting to remain or return; 546 of these replacement units are planned to be on site, with 83 in the process of leasing now and 50 more to be occupied by the end of the year. An additional 15 apartments — already renovated and occupied fully by Yesler residents who chose to move in — are one block away.

Through other redevelopments and innovations throughout the city, the number of households served by the Seattle Housing Authority increased by 34 percent from 1998 to 2009. That’s more than 4,000 additional low-income families, with access to stable housing and services in a city increasingly more diverse and integrated in location and opportunity.

— Kerry J. Coughlin, Communications Director, Seattle Housing Authority