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Seattle OKs transfer of old UW laundry near Mount Baker light rail station to build affordable housing

Published on June 30, 2020

Mount Baker light rail station in Seattle, WA, 2015.
Mount Baker light rail station in Seattle, WA, 2015. Image Credit: SounderBruce (CC ASA 2.0 Generic)

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously on June 22 to acquire a former UW Medical Center laundry next to the Mount Baker light rail station to develop affordable housing.

The transfer comes at no cost to the city, and the project will count toward the 450 units of affordable housing the university agreed to build when the council approved its 6 million-square-foot expansion plan two years ago.

The acquisition signals the laundry property’s transformation from a flashpoint of conflict over organized labor and living-wage jobs to what Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda called an “exciting opportunity for transit-oriented development.”

The university sparked months of protest when it announced in 2018 it would close the 30-year-old laundry and outsource the work of cleaning hospital linens to a non-unionized company.

Calling the Mount Baker facility a “vital public asset,” the union representing laundry workers and UW United Students Against Sweatshops mobilized a monthslong campaign asking the university to delay its decision on the laundry. A primary concern was the loss of living-wage jobs for the laundry’s close to 100 employees — nearly all of whom were immigrants and people of color, according to their union.

It won’t be clear what the affordable housing development on the site could look like until next year, when the Office of Housing asks developers to submit design proposals — but by state mandate, it will include child care and some supportive housing for chronically homeless people.

The rest of the units will be targeted to people making less than 80% of the area median income, or about $61,000 for a single person. City officials suggested at a briefing last week the site would include a mix of studios and multi-bedroom units.


Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Originally written by Katherine Khashimova Long for The Seattle Times.
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