Casa Latina Good Neighbor Agreement
What do you do when a neighborhood doesn’t want your agency to move there? Casa Latina faced this challenge in 2007. Casa Latina provides educational and employment opportunities for immigrants in Seattle. Its day labor program dispatches workers to temporary jobs for contractors and homeowners. The program had outgrown its small location in a parking lot in Belltown, and the Washington State Department of Transportation needed the site for staging activities related to the Alaskan Way Viaduct project. Casa Latina tried for several years to find a new location in a neighborhood amenable to hosting a day workersí center.
In 2007 Casa Latina announced it had purchased a property and had a plan to relocate to a building in the Central District. This announcement was met with opposition from some local business owners and neighbors. They were concerned about having a large number of unemployed people congregating in the area each day as the jobs were assigned, and feared a deterioration of the neighborhood. Cedar River Group was brought in to mediate a solution.
Our team worked with the City of Seattle, Casa Latina and the community surrounding the proposed site to develop a mutually satisfactory agreement regarding Casa Latinaís program activities there. We facilitated several months of meetings with a committee of residents, police and nearby business interests. The committee discussed the renovation plans for the building on the site, the programs’ operational plans, the concerns residents had about potential impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, and a range of possible strategies to address any impacts.
A Good Neighbor Agreement was created and approved by the committee in November 2007. The agreement was then incorporated into the services contract between the City of Seattle and Casa Latina. The new location offers a bright, spacious room and facilities for workers to wait for a job call, plus space for Casa Latinaís educational programs and offices. Casa Latina dispatches workers to nearly 5,000 day labor and domestic jobs per year, and offers workplace safety and skills training, English as a Second Language classes, a womenís support group, and civic engagement opportunities. Casa Latina has been an excellent neighbor since it arrived in the neighborhood.