SEATTLE – We all know our region is experiencing a housing boom, with rising home costs, and a short supply.
Now the economic growth is impacting a major nonprofit; Northwest Harvest is being evicted from its Cherry Street location.
The organization is one of the biggest charities in Washington state; it has 375 food banks and meal programs and serves 2 million meals to needy families each month. At the Cherry Street location in Seattle, 5,000 meals are served each week.
The Cherry Street Food Bank has been in operation just north of I-5 for more than three decades but it will not last longer than 12 months at its current location.
The owner of the property, Trinity Parish Church, told Northwest Harvest earlier this week it has a year to find a new home. It’s yet another sign that Seattle is growing fast.
“You’ve got this growing, prosperous, booming economy and you’ve got a Seattle in which a population is really struggling,” said CEO Thomas Reynolds.
Reynolds says other food banks and organizations do operate in the area but the barrier for service at the Cherry Street location is low.
“Other locations might require you to fill out forms or prove you’re low-income, we don’t have anything like that,” he said.
Plus, Reynolds says it’s a misnomer that their clients are mostly homeless. Many have homes and work hard for what they have but they just need a little help.
Right now the agency uses the space for free, but now will face an enormous challenge having to compete in a city where real estate is booming.
“We’re hoping for an angel,” said Reynolds. "We just need one person who has real estate space, commercial space, that could lease it to us long term or even give it to us."
Officials don’t know exactly when daily operations at the Cherry Street Food Bank will have to change – but they say the eviction won’t have an immediate impact on Northwest Harvest being able to distribute food to its network of other food banks and schools that are already in desperate need.
Trinity Parish Church said, in part: "By retaining ownership of the land, but partnering with a developer to redevelop the north half of the site, we will be in a strong, long-term position to continue nourishing the communities we serve long into the future. Our new parish facilities, which will be located within the new 30-story tower on our property, will result in expanded space to increase our outreach to the neediest among us, support music and the arts at a new level, and continue programs for our thriving and growing downtown congregation.
"Trinity has been a proud supporter of Northwest Harvest and the church has provided rent free space for their offices and food bank for more than 35 years. Trinity will give a 12-month notice prior to the beginning of construction once the construction schedule has been established. Trinity and Northwest Harvest continue to work collaboratively for the good of both organizations in a shared sense of mission. We expect that relationship to continue and to thrive."