Community Over Capital

Cross-posted from my old community activism blog.

I recently received the following invitation to a meeting — open to all — for Community Over Capital. Their project is certainly in the spirit of [that] blog but with an already proven record of direct action. I’m already humbled by their willingness to put their ideas/ideals into practice. There’s a lot of talk in the academic world — where I’m spending most of my time — about democracy and this appears to be an example of it at work:

This Sunday at 1 pm we will be meeting at Caffe Vita on 10th and Pike!

What Community Over Capital seeks to accomplish is open to change as we all meet and discuss. Its just important to start with a little structure or foundation, a place from which we can keep building.

The Community Over Capital working group continues the revolutionary spirit of the 10th and Union Warehouse Occupation wherein 16 activists, the UCC 16 [ed: see CHS story here], were arrested. In the face of the recent slew of closures and cuts to libraries, community centers, and other public spaces, we sought to restore the warehouse, formerly the site of the Union Cultural Center, to its use as a “supportive educational space for teaching, sharing and creating vibrant culture.”

What does community over capital seek to accomplish?
– to turn the 10th and Union Warehouse back into a community center
– to end Seattle City Council’s corrupt tax give aways to property developers (Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program) http://www.zipcon.net/~jvf4119/taxbreaks.htm
– to demand housing for people not for profit
– to discuss “how” and “why” the existence of community spaces is vital to building solidarity
– to make decisions regarding the way we want OUR space to be developed

Upon more research we discovered that the high-end apartments replacing our beloved warehouse would be a part of the corrupt Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program. According to the Multi-Family Tax Exemption Plan, developers will be exempt from paying property taxes for 12 years if 20% of their units are set aside as “affordable” at rents between $1000-1600/month. The “affordable” units are only accessible to tenants who make 65-85% of the Seattle Median Income, for whom a surplus of housing already exists on the market. Under this program, approximately 25 developers in the past year have received 75 million dollars in tax breaks for absolutely no public benefit. Since 2004, a handful of developers have received approximately 140 million dollars in tax breaks for absolutely no public benefit. The money developers make helps put City Council Members back in office guaranteeing the vicious cycle of “building capital” and “destroying community” continues.

The extremely accelerated rates of growth occurring in Seattle, have served only to drive up the cost of housing and cause more poverty, displacement, and homelessness in our city. This can only be a case of the disease we all know as gentrification which hits working class people and people of color the hardest. Soon our city will no longer be a place where people can gather and build communities; rather, it will be a graveyard whose tombstones are empty condos and luxury apartments.

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