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HomeSight Affordable Housing Co-Op U-lex Will Break Ground This SummerCommunity-Led Project Will Bring 68 New Affordable Housing Units to Southeast Seattle


(Seattle–March 5, 2024) After years of planning and development at Othello Square, HomeSight will enter the final phase of this community-led project as it breaks ground this summer on its planned co-operative housing development, U-lex@Othello Square. Set next to the light rail station at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Holly Park Drive, U-lex will offer 68 units affordable to families earning 80 percent or less of the area median income at the time of purchase.


HomeSight is now inviting incomc-qualified applicants to apply and reserve a unit at U-lex@Othello Square on a first come, first served basis.


Housing costs remain prohibitive to many in southeast Seattle. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median King County home sold for $935,000 in June. A recent Seattle Times inquiry into rising housing costs concluded the salary needed to purchase a typical Seattle home is $214,000 – an 80% rise in the past few years.


While southeast Seattle is culturally rich – its approximately 75,000 residents hail from 40 distinct ethnic groups and speak over 50 languages – this neighborhood is home to the highest percentage of low-income residents in the city. The meteoric rise in housing costs places these long-time community members at high risk for displacement.


“Seattle needs affordable housing, now more than ever,” said HomeSight Executive Director Darryl Smith. “For many low- and middle-income people in Washington, even a so-called ‘starter house’ is too big a leap to get into the real estate market. With a co-op like U-lex, people can start building equity at a much lower price point than you’d find in this housing market. U-lex is creating the first few rungs on the ladder, so people can start the climb to the true financial stability homeowning allows.” 


The Othello Square project is notable for its emphasis on extensive community involvement throughout the planning process. Beginning with a nine-month feasibility period in 2017, the project grew and evolved through engagement with southeast Seattle community organizations, local businesses, residents, and resident coalitions.


The first buildings in the Othello complex now house the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, a community-based health care provider, Verity Credit Union, Salish Sea Elementary School, and Tiny Tots Development, a provider of early childhood education.


U-lex’s five-story, mixed-use residential development will offer 25 one-bedroom units (650 sqf.), 35 two-bedroom units (860 sqf.), and 8 three-bedroom units (1015 sqf.). U-lex offers underground parking, bike storage, unit storage spaces, and each unit will be equipped with water- and energy- efficient fixtures and appliances. A large, multi-purpose area equipped with a kitchen will be connected to a central, outdoor courtyard, and sun decks and outdoor gardening opportunities will be available on the second and fourth floors.


In addition to the income requirements, applicants must be first-time homebuyers or have not owned a home in the past three years. Preference will be given to southeast Seattle stakeholders: residents, former residents, and people who work or have connections there. Fifty percent of units are reserved exclusively for this community.


“U-lex is an intentional anti-displacement tool,” said Uche Okezie, HomeSight’s Director of Real Estate Development. “Without planned growth through projects such as U-lex, the city risks losing the communities that make Seattle so unique.”


The boundaries of southeast Seattle today correspond directly to areas on the 1936 Homeowners’ Loan Corporation map for Seattle. Because people of color lived there, these areas were shaded yellow for “definitely declining” and red for areas designated “hazardous.” Overlaying this map with the Displacement Risk Index and Access to Opportunity Index maps in the city of Seattle’s 2015 Growth & Equity Report shows this legacy of redlining and racially restrictive lending covenants persists. Last year, the Washington State Department of Commerce released its report on homeownership rates for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in Washington, which stated: “The Black-white homeownership gap is worse today than it was in the 1960s when racial discrimination in housing was legal.”


U-lex is spelled “ʔúləx̌” in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the Coast Salish people who originally lived on this land. Pronounced ‘OH-lew,’ ʔúləx̌ means “gather” in the Lushootseed language.


“As a place-based community development organization serving historically redlined and marginalized people excluded from civic and economic participation in society, our mission is to ensure those who built our neighborhoods and communities share in the benefits of its growth,” said Okezie. “Closing disparities in access to opportunity and creating generational wealth through homeownership has been and still is our focus.”


To learn more about U-lex, please visit HomeSight’s website or contact Pearl Nelson at


About HomeSight

Since 1990, HomeSight, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Community Development Corporation (CDC), has worked to preserve and enhance economically and culturally diverse communities. HomeSight achieves this mission through homeownership initiatives, small business development and community advocacy. At HomeSight, we believe communities can only be strong, vibrant, and equitable if homeownership is attainable, cultural anchors thrive in place, and small businesses have access to the knowledge and tools to excel in changing markets. Through HomeSight’s programs, we aim to build prosperity that lifts all members of each unique community we serve.



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