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West Seattle In Review: Disappearing Housing And Food Deserts

Melinda Jankord-Steedman and Phyllis Jantz at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center for the 'Week in Review' summer tour stop on Friday, May 29.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Affordable housing – that issue is atop the minds of a lot of people in West Seattle and beyond.

KUOW's Week in Review broadcast live Friday from Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in West Seattle's Delridge area to kick off the show's summer tourthrough all of the newly formed Seattle City Council districts (find yours on our district map). 

First up was District 1, which includes West Seattle and South Park. Even before we packed up the vans with hundreds of feet of cable and gaffer's tape, we polled our listeners on what city issues are most on their mind.

Two issues bubbled up the most: housing and transportation. (Want to weigh in for your district? Take our survey.)

On Friday, we pulled aside a few audience members to ask their thoughts on their neighborhood. 

First up were Melinda Jankord-Steedman and Phyllis Jantz, two sisters who live in West Seattle. They walked over the few blocks from Jankord-Steedman's house.

They are bookends in a family of nine children: Jankord-Steedman is the oldest and Jantz is the youngest. One other sibling is also in the Seattle area.

Melinda Jankord-Steedman

"How long have you lived in this district?”

“1978. We built a house in this neighborhood. It was affordable. It had a great view of downtown at the time.”

“Not anymore?”


“What do you like best about the area?”

“I love the convenience to downtown, I love the city. I grew up on the prairie – Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska – and I love the city.”

“What is the biggest challenge for the area?”

“Affordable housing. Lots of apartments are going up, but I don’t think a lot of people can afford to live here, you know, people who have lived and grown up in the neighborhood.”

Phyllis Jantz

“How long have you lived here?”

“Seven and a half years. My wife got a job up here. We moved here from Phoenix – it was a very easy decision to make.”

“What is the best part of this area?”

“Walkability. We're right there by Hiawatha Park. I have a 13-year-old son who goes and hangs out there with his buddies. They drop off their backpacks and after school and head over there and walk into the store, walk down to the Junction.”

“And what is the biggest challenge?”

“I see so many affordable housing options being torn down -- literally. I just saw one along California. Where are those people living now? And the apartments down on Alki are getting torn down. Where are those people going to live now?”

[asset-images[{"caption": "David Bestock has been the director of Youngstown for over two years. He has a short commute -- he lives in one of the artistic resident units at the center.", "fid": "118114", "style": "placed_full", "uri": "public://201505/DSC_0283.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott"}]]David Bestock

“Where do you live?”

“I live in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. There’s artist housing upstairs, and my background is in theater. I produce and perform and write theater, music and film, so I moved in... 

"There are 36 units – probably over 50 people with couples and families."

"What are the challenges facing this community?"

“We’re in a food desert here in Delridge; so access to affordable healthy foods is something that we’re really struggling with as a community.”