The neighborhood of High Point, which lies on the southeast edge of West Seattle, looks to be a quaint, well-designed neighborhood at first glance, but 10 years ago, it was the product of the Clinton administrations HOPE IV program, aimed to remove the stigma associated with public housing projects.
After the community’s development in World War II, the neighborhood was converted into low-income housing. By the 1970s, it had attracted enough gang activity that gunfire was considered normal. By 2000, the federal government pledged $35 million in HOPE VI program dollars to redevelop, demolishing all 716 units to rebuild to what it is today.
High Point’s residents include everything from seniors living on Social Security to upper-middle-class homeowners, with approximately half of the 1,500 units devoted to low-income and a half for rent or sale at standard market rates. With the experiment being labeled as a success, High Point Master Planner Brian Sullivan said their new development, Yesler Terrace, will reflect many of the same principals as High Point.
“The new Yesler Terrace, which is being built under a HOPE VI successor program called Choice Neighborhoods, will be denser than High Point, include about 3,500 units of market-rate housing (compared to High Point’s 800), and have 88,000 square feet of retail space and 900,000 square feet of office space when redevelopment is completed in about a decade,” the Seattle Magazine report said.
Initially, the concern at High Point was whether the homes would keep their value, but according to Zillow data, High Point’s home values have risen, with some homes priced at $575,000.
“Instead of putting all the low-income people over there and all the people buying houses over here, we consciously mixed them up,” Sullivan said to Seattle Magazine. “When you have people in different stages of their life and at different income levels living side by side, that helps toward a better understanding, rather than having this prejudice about low-income people.”