“Located in the heart of the city, the International District has been the historical, cultural and political center for Seattle’s Asian American communities. The International District was one of the few places where Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants could live. For first generation immigrants, it was their first home in America. For their children, the second generation, it was the neighborhood they grew up in. For their grandchildren, the third generation, it was the neighborhood which gave them their identity as Asian Americans and the opportunity to repay their elders. For me, the International District became a central part of my life, beginning with the times I spent as a child in my father’s hotel room, and in the restaurants, barbershops, gambling parlors and pool halls of the area. For all of us, the International District meant a sense of community.” – Uncle Bob Santos, Make Hum Bows, Not Hot Dogs
Chinatown-International District in the 1970s. The construction of Interstate 5 had cut the neighborhood in half, threatened air quality and created noise pollution. The construction of the Kingdome stadium was also going to negatively impact the neighborhood’s residents by driving up cost of living and creating a more industrial setting. Health, housing and other social service resources specifically targeted for Asian and Pacific Islanders were scarce.
In the face of these challenges, local business and community leaders formed InterIm CDA to address this need. Led by Uncle Bob Santos, InterIm CDA created and preserved affordable housing, health clinics and other resources to help this predominantly low-income immigrant and refugee neighborhood. Today InterIm CDA provides planning, advocacy, social services, affordable housing, a community garden (see the nearby Danny Woo Garden) and environmental justice programs.