Skyway-West Hill’s First Community Development Association (CDA)

  Community Interest

by Jeannie Williams and Devin Chicras

In July 2021, the WHCA board voted unanimously to begin the process of becoming a Community Development Association (CDA). The process will be challenging, requiring our 100% volunteer-run organization to raise millions of dollars and hire our first-ever employees, but we are dedicated to finding new ways to meet our community’s needs and create neighborhoods that work for all. 

What is a CDA?

CDAs are organizations that help support and revitalize communities. They typically focus on affordable housing and community development stewardship. CDAs can also be involved in a wide range of community services that meet local needs such as education, job training, healthcare, commercial development, and other social programs on behalf of the community. Some specific themes include:

Community Building, Planning and Advocacy: Sustaining the Neighborhood

  • Partnering with residents, local stakeholders and local government 
  • Help with making key planning decisions
  • Staying engaged to help carry out and advocate those plans

Economic Development: Help Develop Housing, Physical Amenities and Necessities to the Neighborhood

Using an equitable development approach that reflects neighborhood priorities: 

  • Housing development/repair/rehab
  • Business district or commercial corridor development
  • Business and/or entrepreneur development
  • Vacant land reclamation
  • Open space development
  • Stopping environmental damage and clean-up
  • Recreational space development
  • Other physical revitalization

Support: Nurturing Strong, Self-Sufficient, Successful Residents and Local Entrepreneurs

  • Helping to develop the capabilities of individual residents and entrepreneurs, especially young people, to help them realize their full potential.

Convening and Facilitating: Creating a Strong Voice for the Neighborhood

Working together with its Grassroots Organization partners, like the Skyway Coalition, a CDA can: 

  • Help bring organizations and stakeholders together for planning
  • Participate in Joint problem-solving
  • Participate in Community education, advocacy, and physical development

Resident Engagement and Empowerment: Building Residents’ Power for Decision-Making

  • Aligning priorities, plans, and activities in the neighborhood with the priorities of neighborhood residents and other local stakeholders
  • Ensuring that residents are engaged in the work of the organizations serving that neighborhood
  • Ensuring that residents have a decision-making role in the neighborhood
  • Building pride in the neighborhood

Why is it important for Skyway-West Hill to have a CDA?

In 2019, Skyway Coalition was formed to advocate for policies and funding to support anti-displacement strategies, affordable housing, and economic development for Skyway-West Hill. Supported by founding organizations WHCA, Childhaven, Renton Innovation Zone Partnership (RIZP), Supporting Partnerships in Education and Beyond (formerly “Somali Parent Education Board”), Urban Family, and Renton School District, the Coalition advocated for funding to secure a community center, resource center, outdoor preschool, and to support affordable housing and economic development. 

In 2020 the Skyway-West Hill community was awarded seed funding for these initiatives and also recognized the need to have a conduit to steward – and eventually own – these and potential future projects on behalf of the community. WHCA wants to help fill that role and support the long-term goal for community-owned land and assets. 

Next Steps

Since WHCA’s founding, we have been an all-volunteer-powered community organization but will need to pivot to build capacity and funding to support the community. 

We will build capacity for us to grow the CDA by hiring professional, full-time staff members who can partner with the board of directors and other community partners to steward key community projects in Skyway-West Hill. 

We are seeking funding from a variety of sources such as: 

  • Private foundations and corporations
  • Public funding (i.e. King County funds, state funds, etc.)
  • Individual donors

Ultimately, we will partner with the various nonprofit, public, and private partners involved with Skyway-West Hill’s community development projects to work toward building operational ownership and stewardship on behalf of the community. 

We hope you join us in this journey and continue to help us create a more equitable, informed, engaged, and vibrant Skyway-West Hill!

Like having a more equitable, engaged, informed, and vibrant community? You can make a huge impact by joining your neighbors in giving $5 or more a month to the leanest, hardest working all-volunteer nonprofit in the neighborhood.