Cuentos from Our Work: June 2023

Four Amigos – Beloved Community Ground Breaking

In a festive and energizing ceremony, El Centro de la Raza broke ground on its newest affordable housing project, the Four Amigos – Beloved Community, in Columbia City on June 14th, 2023 in front of nearly 100 people, including community members and leaders, and elected officials. 

The $64-million, family-oriented building will have 87 apartments, most of which will be two- and three-bedroom units. The building will serve families with incomes between 30% and 60% of the area median income. It is just two rail stops from Plaza Maestas, where El Centro de la Raza’s headquarters and services are located.

“This mixed-use development is named in honor of the Four Amigos, who emphasized the importance of multiracial collaboration, and the continued effort for justice,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza. “Their legacy of multiracial unity continues to inspire people in our region and beyond. While we have achieved a lot over the last 50 years, there’s still much work to do.” 

The building will house an early childhood development center and the Consejo Counseling and Referal Service satellite office. The Church of Hope, located at the site where the building will be constructed, partnered with El Centro de la Raza to provide affordable housing. The church will be housed next to the building. 

“The residents of this development will experience improved health outcomes, attainable educational opportunities, and stability for families and their children. That’s what we all want, and they deserve that,” Ortega said. “Affordable housing is a public good that will benefit not only this neighborhood but the entire city by supporting local businesses. People will contribute to the local economy and create more job opportunities. 

The project is expected to be completed by 2024. Latino-focused art will adorn the exterior with mosaics and murals created by local Latino artists. 

“The wonderful thing about the Four Amigos – Beloved Community development is that it is designed and planned so that it can serve families with children,” said Miguel Maestas, Associate Director of El Centro de la Raza.

Original Gang of Four member Larry Gossett told the crowd about the social justice struggle he and the other Four Amigos led over 50 years ago and Roberto Maestas’ declaration that The Beacon Hill School he had taken over “would be called El Centro de la Raza.” 

“I’d like all of you to join me right now in honoring El Centro de la Raza for continuing this excellent commitment to all the people of the greater Seattle community in the manner that they have, with this being the latest example,” Gossett said. 

Media Round Up

Yahoo News: Groundbreaking ceremony for new affordable housing building (

South Seattle Emerald: El Centro de la Raza Breaks Ground on Columbia City Housing Development | South Seattle Emerald

The Seattle Time: homes-in-seattle/

A heartfelt thank you to all of our speakers and participants for being part of this special event! Your contributions have helped us go above and beyond! 

Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

Miguel Maestas, Associate Director of El Centro de la Raza

Brian Ramirez, Housing Development Associate of El Centro de la Raza

Joseph Martin, Indigenous Pray Song Performer

José Martí Child Development Center Children Performers

Larry Gossett, Member of “The Four Amigos”

Daniel J. Glen, 7 Directions Architects

Emily Alvarado, Vice President of Enterprise Community Partners 

Maiko Winkler-Chin, Director of Seattle Office of Housing

Marion Mollegen McFadden, Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary for Community Planning and Development, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Bishop Shelley M. Bryan Wee

Pastor Darla DeFrance, Columbia City Church of Hope