Plate of Nations Highlights

Seattle's Most Diverse Restaurant Promotion Week Had Its Biggest Year Ever in 2024!

With more restaurants and more patrons than ever before, 13th Plate of Nations highlighted the unmatched diversity of the Southeast Seattle food scene.

In its 13th year of celebrating southeast Seattle’s diverse culinary scene, Plate of Nations drew over 2,000 new customers and increased revenues an average of 12% for the 51 south Seattle restaurants that participated—generating $70,000 for Rainier Valley businesses. This was a 30 percent increase in participation over last year.

Over 16 days this spring, Plate of Nations offered Seattle foodies a culinary world tour, with restaurants that spanned the globe from Laos to Ethiopia. This year, Plate of Nations included Arabic cuisine and two new halal fast food restaurants in its lineup, making its lineup of globe-spanning restaurants the most diverse ever.

“HomeSight’s community development department advocates for small business owners in south Seattle, and we’re always talking about the immeasurable contributions they make to our diverse city. But Plate of Nations allows us to really show, not tell, how diversity can make a community so vibrant,” said HomeSight’s Community Development Director Sarah Valenta. “Sharing food—because a meal really engages all our senses—is, I think, the best way to experience and begin to understand a culture and its traditions.”

Community members agreed. On Plate of Nations’ social media platforms, HomeSight received messages such as:

  • “Thank you for sharing about the small local businesses in the south end of Seattle. We live 10 minutes away and didn’t know about all these wonderful places. I haven’t been back to the neighborhood since I went to middle school and high school down the street from there!”
  • “Can I just say that I truly appreciate you all, @plateofnations? So many small and local restaurants get overlooked. I love y’all because it reminds me there are so many restaurants I want to return to or try out!”

“We’re so thrilled to see how this annual celebration has grown over the years and brought success to local business owners,” said Valenta. “We can’t wait to bring it back in 2025!”

Fair Housing Month

This Fair Housing Month,HomeSight Celebrates
“The Act in Action”

April is Fair Housing Month, and HomeSight programs embody this year’s theme.

Every April, we recognize the anniversary of our country’s Fair Housing Act. Signed into law on April 11, 1968, this federal act prohibited the longstanding practices of discrimination in housing transactions. It protects people from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or familial status.

HomeSight’s work is rooted in the tenets of this landmark legislation and brings the FHA’s ideals to work for Washingtonians. This year’s Fair Housing Month theme – The Act in Action – highlights HomeSight’s important work in the community. Here are a few of the programs that show how HomeSight puts the act in action every day.

 U-lex: Affordable Housing Co-op as Anti-Displacement Tool

 With beautiful, modern living conditions set next to the light rail station at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Holly Park Drive, HomeSight’s U-lex co-op will offer 68 units affordable to families earning 80 percent or less of the area income at the time of purchase.

“For too many Washington residents, even a so-called ‘starter house’ is too big a leap to get into the real estate market,” said HomeSight Executive Director Darryl Smith. “With a co-op like U-lex, people can start building equity at a much lower price point than you’d find in this housing market. U-lex is creating the first few rungs on the ladder, so people can start the climb to the true financial stability homeowning allows.” 

U-lex is the final building in HomeSight’s Othello Square complex, which now houses the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, a community-based health care provider, Verity Credit Union, Salish Sea Elementary School, and Tiny Tots Development, a provider of early childhood education. Fifty percent of U-lex units are reserved for people who have roots in this community.

 “U-lex is an intentional anti-displacement tool,” said Uche Okezie, HomeSight’s Director of Real Estate Development. “Without planned growth through projects such as U-lex, the city risks losing the communities that make Seattle so unique.”

U-lex is spelled “ʔúləx̌” in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the Coast Salish people who originally lived on this land. Pronounced ‘OH-lew,’ ʔúləx̌ means “gather” in the Lushootseed language. To learn more about U-lex, please contact Pearl Nelson or visit the website.

Field Order 15 Fund: Reparative Lending to Help New Black Home Builders — and Homeowners

This year, HomeSight and Black Home Initiative (BHI), launched the Field Order 15 Fund, a reparative lending program for Black home developers that provides upfront grant money, eligibility for low-interest lending, and technical support. The program offers a creative approach to addressing the affordable housing shortage by giving agency to stakeholders that traditionally have not had a seat at the table.

The fund’s name references General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Special Field Order 15, issued at the end of the civil war to re-distribute land to the the newly freed enslaved people, providing each family with “40 acres and a mule.” President Lincoln approved Special Field Order 15, but after his assassination his successor Andrew Johnson rescinded it, returning the land to treasonous former enslavers. Black people never received “40 acres and a mule,” or any restitution for their enslavement. The following ten decades of explicitly racist policies prevented Black people from staking a claim in an economically secure future.

“Field Order 15 Fund aims to fulfill this abandoned equity goal and HomeSight is the perfect home for it,” said Okezie, who manages the project. “As a Community Development Financial Institution, we have homeownership counseling, we do mortgage lending, we offer down payment assistance to income-qualified households, and we also build quality, affordable houses. But we are also a CDC – a Community Development Corporation – and our job there is to promote economic growth in the communities we serve. As a CDFI, a CDC, and a member of the BHI, this project pulls all our expertise, goals and imperatives together in a really unique way.”

Purchase Assistance: Halal Loans, VISTA Loans, and Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Fund Offer an Opportunity to Build Generational Wealth

HomeSight’s purchase assistance programs are designed to reach out to communities that were impacted by racism and unfair housing practices. HomeSight can offer first-time homebuyers a VISTA loan, which doesn’t require the borrower to have a social security number. HomeSight’s Halal loan is compliant with Sharia law, for Muslim homebuyers.

HomeSight recently partnered with Windermere Real Estate to create the Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund, a loan product to increase purchasing power and bridge the affordability gap facing Black homebuyers earning between 80-120 percent of Washington state’s median income. The fund allows eligible recipients to borrow up to $20,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use toward their home’s purchase cost.

This initiative was inspired by legendary Washington state legislator and Seattle City Council President Sam Smith, whose perseverance in passing the state’s version of the Fair Housing Act – the Open Housing Law – in 1967 resulted in a major, hard-won civil rights victory. The fund’s name also gives a nod to Smith’s congenial personality.

“The foundation for generational wealth building in American is rooted in home ownership, and the Fair Housing Act’s passage opened a pathway out of poverty for many Americans,” said Smith. “Fair Housing Month allows us to reflect on how far we’ve come and reminds us how much work remains. The work of HomeSight and its community partners is so important right now because that pathway to prosperity can be long and difficult to navigate. Our job is to light the way.”