‘Who will have a place in Seattle?’ Community leader challenges tech to grow inclusively

“Seattle’s losing a part of its soul.”

That’s how Wyking Garrett sees it. He is a third-generation resident of the city’s historically black Central District and he discussed how his community has been left behind by Seattle’s growth at Forterra’s annual breakfast Thursday.

“Seattle is growing,” he said. “Black Seattle is not. Seattle is booming. Black Seattle has been busted.”

Garrett is president of Africatown Community Land Trust, an organization that worked with Forterra to secure a hotly contested piece of property in the Central District for affordable housing and local business development. Historically, Forterra focused on preserving wildlands in rural areas but the organization is now taking on urban challenges with a new fund backed by high-profile investors from the tech industry.

Despite those investments from individuals in tech, Garrett sees the overall industry taking off without including Seattle’s communities of color. The region’s tech boom “has driven prices far beyond the means of those who have been excluded from the economic mainstream has created a sense of urgency,” Garrett said. “When we look at the median income of black families in Seattle today, it’s less than half of white families.”

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