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  • Nathan Ellis-Brown

The Marion West Opens

Marion West Grand Opening!

On June 21st, a large crowd of housing supporters gathered to celebrate the grand opening of The Marion West, LIHI’s new project in the University District featuring 20 affordable apartments for homeless young adults (age 18 to 24) and 29 apartments for low-wage workers who are entering the workforce. The project is named for racial justice champion Marion West, who along with her husband, helped break the color barrier in the U-District by housing African Americans and students of color in the 1950s.

Marion West

Speakers included Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who thanked the building’s namesake Marion West for courage as a housing justice pioneer in the 1950s, and emphasized that, “It is in partnership with the homeless that we solve homelessness.”

Marion West followed the Mayor and thanked LIHI for remembering her and bestowing this honor upon her. She said, “I speculate that the people who will live here will have a few cracks in their lives. By giving them this ground to stand on they will have an opportunity to fill in those cracks and help create a more equitable society.”

Marion’s daughter Kathleen spoke of a wonderful childhood growing up in their multicultural boardinghouse household in the U District, with a multitude of melodious language, swirling colors, and delicious smells, in a time when such households essentially didn’t exist and, in fact, people sometimes surrounded their home demonstrating against its existence.

City Councilmember Debora Juarez praised the West family saying, “This building, through brick and mortar, embodies the generosity and love you offered 60 years ago.”

Melinda Giovengo, executive director of YouthCare, which will be providing social services to the youths living at The Marion West, stressed the importance of having affordable housing for youths in the U District, a place youths want to live: “This home will give them a safe place to help them work on art, on their careers, on maintaining sobriety in a youth-centric neighborhood where they can thrive.”

Sally Clark, representing the University of Washington and the U District Partnership emphasized how wonderful it was that three synergistic organizations–LIHI, The U District Foodbank, and YouthCare–could partner to create such a necessary project: We need more of this. Let’s do it again.”

Joe Gruber, executive director of the U District Foodbank, thankful for the expanded space and capacity to serve more people better. said, “Our new home is about providing a strong foundation for our foodbank families.”

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