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Today, the Council passed an ordinance approving the Seattle Indian Services Commission’s decision to transfer of the Leschi Center building to the Seattle Indian Health Board. The Seattle Indian Health Board currently rents space from the Commission in the Leschi Center and in the near-by Pearl Warren building.

SISCUnder the cooperation agreement between the City and the Commission and under the covenants in the bond resolution documents issued by the Commission, the City’s approval of the transfer is required.  The City’s bond counsel advised that the approval should be by ordinance.

The Health Board is a non-profit multi-service community health center chartered to serve the health care needs of American Indians and Alaska natives living in the Seattle/King County region. The Commission is a public corporation created in 1972 to provide effective, comprehensive, and coordinated planning services, activities, and programs to meet the unique needs of the many Native American residents of Seattle.Indian Health Board

The City Council conditioned its approval of this transfer on the inclusion of a covenant on the Leschi Center requiring the Health Board to continue providing its current services in the building for at least 25 years.

The Leschi Center and the Pearl Warren building were financed with tax-exempt municipal bonds issued by the Commission and guaranteed by the City. The outstanding debt on both buildings is over $5,000,000.

The Commission decided that the Health Board has the capacity to continue debt service payments on Leschi Center if they were to own the building.

The Commission’s other tenant, the Seattle Indian Center, has been paying approximately 80% of the amount of rent called for in its lease with the Commission, resulting in the Commission voting to evict the Center. The Center contracts with the City of Seattle to provide the community with a drop-in day center, hygiene services, a community meal program, and a food bank at its location in the Leschi Center.  As a result of its default under its lease with the Commission at the Leschi Center, those services are at risk.

SICThe Health Board, however, has agreed to retain the Center as a tenant for 5 months in order to allow the Center time to relocate itself and the important social services it provides.

The Council also approved today a Resolution I sponsored declaring the intent of the City to retain the social services currently being provided by the Seattle Indian Center. It states in part:

“It is the Council’s intent that the services currently provided by the Seattle Indian Center continue to be available to the community without interruption regardless of the status of the Seattle Indian Center or its location.  To that end, the Council requests:

A. That the Department of Finance and Administrative Services provide whatever assistance it can to the Seattle Indian Center to relocate as quickly as possible to a new facility in which it may continue to provide the services without interruption; and

B. Should the Seattle Indian Center fail to secure, in a timely manner, a suitable facility in which it can continue to provide the services, that the Human Services Department reallocate those resources to other service providers to ensure continuity of services to the same population in the same vicinity currently served by the Seattle Indian Center.

The Council requests that the Department of Finance and Administrative Services and the Human Services Department report jointly to the City Council’s Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee, or its successor, no later than January 31, 2014 on the status of the City’s efforts to ensure the continuity of the services and include cost estimates of those efforts.”

I value the services being provided by the Center and hope to see the Center successfully relocated in the near future.

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