The Neighborhood

White Center is an extremely unique community of approximately 13,000 people located in unincorporated King County, adjacent to the city of Seattle and just north of the city of Burien, Washington. White Center has long been a home for immigrants and refugees, some of who are just arriving and others who have been here for a decade or more, raising families, establishing businesses and growing social, cultural and religious institutions.

Video created by Youth Media Institute

Demographics

  • Immigrants comprise 49% of households within the proposed zone, and 40% of all households report limited English proficiency.
  • Neighborhood schools report that there are 54 languages spoken by its students—6 in 10 of students speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the few affordable places to live in the Seattle area, it attracts a large number of people from Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, Eastern Europe, and Central and East Africa. According to the 2010 Census, 40%of White Center’s population is Caucasian, 23% Asian, 22% Latino, 9% African American and 8% other race.

Business

White Center’s business district is a reflection of its diversity, with the majority of businesses owned by immigrants from Southeast Asia and Latin America.

  • Businesses on the main street include a Mexican tortilla factory, an ice cream shop, several Vietnamese restaurants, a Salvadoran bakery, and Cambodian grocery stores.
  • Recent investments have turned abandoned buildings back into vital community establishments, such as a roller skating rink and a coffee shop.

Housing and Employment

However in addition to being one of the most diverse areas in King County, White Center has its challenges.

  • Despite the fact that White Center is one of the most affordable places to live in greater Seattle, 48% of households live in unaffordable housing, i.e., they spend more than 30% of their household income on housing (U.S Census Bureau), compared to 39% of households in King County.
  • According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the unemployment rate for White Center was 10.2% compared to 5.7% for King County.
  • While 76% of White Center’s households have an employed adult, many of those jobs fail to pay a living wage, and only 46% have health benefits through their jobs.

Education

  • 22% of White Center adults do not have a high school diploma, which is more than double the percentage of King County as a whole.
  • Only 51% of White Center students go directly from high school to college.
  • 82% of children at our three White Center focus schools are eligible for the Free/Reduced Price lunch program, which is more than twice as high as the King County average.

While the statistics may look grim, there is a tremendous amount of hope and pride in the White Center community. White Center Promise will do its best to harness community voice, align community partners and provide solutions that will enable White Center to be a place where children can grow up to be healthy and successful.