A majority of residents we serve in the U District are BIPOC. Although surrounded by much more affluent neighborhoods, 49% of us live below the poverty line. Designated an area of high displacement risk, our community’s precarious state affects both residents and small business owners. 

We conducted a vulnerability survey of 134 small businesses along The Ave to discover that 65% of business owners on the Ave are woman- or BIPOC-owned where 90% of business owners lease and 15% are on month-to-month leases. 

The upzone of 2017, which increased the development heights from an average of 1-3 stories up to 33 stories overnight, further exacerbated this risk of displacement. What little affordable housing existed previously is being replaced by high-rise tower development projects that exclusively opt for the ‘payment-in-lieu’ option of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program, which does not build affordable housing in our neighborhood.



U District Demographic Data

The U District is a "majority minority", justifying the switch to using the BIPOC label to describe our diversity. And although surrounded by much more affluent neighborhoods, 49% of the residents in the University District live below the poverty level. 

Majority BIPOC
A majority of the residents in the U District are BIPOC
- 32.42% Asian
- 6.6% Hispanic or Latino
- 2.53% Black
- 7.37% mixed race
47.42% non-Latino White
Below Poverty
49% of the residents in the University District live below the poverty level:
- 32% < $10,000/year
- 17% < $25,000/year
Displacement Risk
Designated an area of high displacement risk, which affects both residents and business owners alike.

U District Small Business Vulnerability Study

We conducted a vulnerability study of 134 businesses on The Ave in 2017 with Steinbrueck Urban Strategies. The extensive in-person survey revealed the precarious position of our small business owners, before  the impacts of the high-rise rezone took effect.
65% of the small business owners on the Ave are owned by women or BIPOC folks.
70% of businesses have minority and/or immigrant employees.
85% are managed by an owner-operator.
Small Businesses
About half have a 25-foot or less storefront width.
Small Businesses
Almost all are below 5,000 sqft and most are between 1,000-2,000 sqft.
Legacy Businesses
Over half have been operating on The Ave for more than 10 years.

Equity Commitment

The U District Advocates strive to make the U District the most walkable, livable, and innovative urban center in Seattle, where the benefits of density are magnetic and shared by all equitably.

In order to achieve this, we recognize that systemic racial disparities in our diverse community need to change. We are committed to doing our part to make the U District a neighborhood that welcomes, supports, and celebrates people of color at every level.

We commit to ongoing learning and evolving our anti-racist practices and advocacy as we work towards becoming a diverse, inclusive, and multiracial organization. 

Each year, we go where the people are to host an interactive booth at the U District Streetfair to engage our community and ask them what our priorities should be for the following year. 

We listen, and will continue to do so.


  • Community-Driven Strategies: Ensure that the communities most impacted or historically-marginalized have influence and decision-making power.
  • Build Transformative Approaches: Work towards a shift in systems, rather than quick fixes.
  • Value Relationships: Recognize the value of relationships in achieving goals and commit to partnerships and collective approaches.
  • Clarity & Consistency: Consistent communication and a commitment to values.
  • Do No Harm: Vigilant focus on impact and unintentional consequences of our actions and words.
* Inspired by the Racial Equity Action Plan of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, a nonprofit organization advocating for pedestrian and bicycle safety in Seattle.