Next time you’re at Pike Place Market’s famous clock and sign, saying hello to Rachel the Piggy Bank – look up towards the Market’s upper levels. Every window that isn’t a restaurant or shop is housing! The Market is home to hundreds of residents living on low incomes, seniors working on the craft line, and elders continuing a vital tradition of contributing to the health and vitality of their downtown neighborhood. 

 When the Market was saved from redevelopment by the Friends of the Market in 1971, the Market Historical Commission mandated that affordable housing within the district would be restored. Market preservationists and activists were committed to returning the community of residents who had been displaced from unsafe housing and urban renewal.  

Since the Foundation’s start in 1982, investing in housing has become even more essential so that our neighbors can find stability and achieve other markers of living a healthy life. In collaboration with our partners, we have helped retain affordable housing in and around the district – supporting the construction and rehabilitation of units in many residential buildings in Pike Place Market.

The history of housing in Pike Place Market

During the early years of Pike Place Market, affordable accommodations were available to sailors, loggers, and itinerant laborers who needed a place to stay for a night while on shore leave or during their travels. Other long-term residents in the downtown area could find affordable permanent residency in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels along Pike Place. 

“After a number of elderly people died in the fire at the old Ozark Hotel in 1970, many of these seemingly ramshackle buildings were torn down,” said Joe Martin, housing advocate and Pike Market Medical Clinic social worker for nearly 45 years. “They were considered unsafe, but they were replaced with ‘more profitable’ corporate developments while the affordable accommodations were never replaced. We were losing thousands of housing units in and around the Market.” From 1960 to 1980, more than 18,400 residential units were lost: 53% of Seattle’s downtown housing stock. 

A 1973 map of the existing housing within the historic district’s boundaries.

During the fight to keep the Market in the 1970s, advocate group Friends of the Market championed the need for affordable housing. Victor Steinbrueck argued that this was one of the first priorities of the revised urban renewal plan to foster a vibrant urban neighborhood. “They were committed to keeping housing in Pike Market for the elders who were very much a part of the community,” says Joe. “Victor had that kind of a big-hearted sensitivity to not only the ambiance of the Market, but the human dimension.” 

After Seattle voted to “keep the Market” and the neighborhood was saved from redevelopment, the Historical Commission mandated that affordable housing within the district would be restored. To obtain the Historical Commission’s approval for the urban renewal plan, a minimum of 400 low-income apartments were required. This resulted in rehabilitating multiple upper floors of Market buildings to make way for new apartments. “The preservation of the commercial aspects was just as important as preserving the residential,” said John Turnbull, Director of Asset Management for the PDA. “It was creating this ‘social ecology’ of the Market, as they called it.” 

Livingston-Baker resident Ken Crawford chatting with housing advocate Joe Martin. Joe helped co-found the Pike Market Clinic in 1978 and continued serving as a social worker there until his retirement in 2021.

But the finances needed to create housing in the Market’s abandoned upper levels proved to be tricky. The new Pike Place Market PDA (Public Development and Authority) initially had to create its own not-for-profit called “Market Housing” to qualify for the federal grants and subsidies needed to renovate and expand the Livingston Hotel, the first of the residential projects in urban renewal.  As renewal activities expanded, the PDA became the owner-operator of over 300 apartments, mostly reserved for seniors living on low incomes.

In the freshly-saved Market trying to establish itself in a new era, the business of building and maintaining housing was a tall order for the small staff at the PDA. “We were having a hard enough time managing the other properties,” said John. “And then the Foundation came in as a real important backstop on services and outreach to the tenants.”  

In the early 80s when the residential managers were struggling with the dual roles of both operating the buildings and advocating for the tenants, the Market Foundation and growing social service network emerged as a resource to help better support the community of residents. “We have different purposes, different operating structures,” said John. “Ultimately, the PDA are the property managers, and the Foundation is out there raising money for social services. The more that we have those services and housing operating, the better we can foster an economically and socially integrated community.” 

In partnership with the agencies, the Market Foundation would support the residential environment by directly promoting access to services and investing in the continuation of affordable housing in and around the Market.

1980-2000: Preserving a residential community

The official Charter of the Pike Place Market commits “to preserve and expand the residential community, especially for low-income people.” Since our inception, the Market Foundation has helped carry out that commitment by directly supporting access to services and investing in Pike Place Market’s low-income housing – usually by supporting the work of the Pike Place Market PDA. Here is a look at our investments over the years: 


In the early 1980s, several teenagers lived in the abandoned building on 2nd and Pike just outside of the Market. “Many kids were living on the streets of Seattle throughout the late 1970s and early 80s,” said Joe Martin. “This gained national attention after a few of these kids were featured in the documentary Streetwise [and Mary Ellen Mark’s preceding expose in LIFE magazine”]. As the need grew, there were talks about creating a new agency in the Market to serve youth experiencing homelessness. Instead, the Market Foundation decided to funnel resources to YouthCare, who were experienced in this work.  

The Market Foundation raised and gave $100,000 to YouthCare to open Straley House (now Catalyst), a 12-bedroom home offering one of the region’s first low-barrier transitional housing programs for homeless youth over 18 who had aged out of the foster care system. Today, YouthCare continues to provide space for young people to build community, get connected to school and employment, learn life skills, and transition into permanent housing.  

In the mid 1980s, The Gatewood Hotel (located at 1st & Pine) was a property that had fallen into disrepair. The Market Foundation and the PDA attempted to purchase the property, and after lengthy negotiations, the PDA was granted a 20-year lease. However, the PDA Charter only allows it to work within the historical district (which did not include the Gatewood Hotel), and the district could not be expanded. Instead, the Foundation recruited Plymouth Housing to develop the project and raised $100,000 towards the funding. Plymouth ran the Gatewood Apartments until 2001,  providing 96 units of housing for formerly homeless adults.  

The building was then sold to various LLC owners who would nominate it for Seattle Landmark status and convert it into the Palihotel in 2017. 

In the late 1980s, the Market Clinic noticed a serious issue for its senior patients who could no longer live independently. In most cases, they had to move far from downtown and usually into a nursing home. The disruption of a move and the general unrest in their lives was very detrimental to many of the clinic’s patients.  

At the time, the PDA proposed the redevelopment of land available directly west of the Market on Western Avenue. The primary goal was to create permanent parking, and low-income housing was a second priority. The needs of the clinic patients led the Foundation to encourage the PDA to build assisted living housing on the site. Once the plan was agreed upon, the Foundation raised private funds (approximately $250,000), and the PDA began development. The Seattle Housing Authority provided $2.5M from their first-ever housing levy, and Heritage House opened in 1991, operated by Providence Health and Services. As one of the Market Foundation’s legacy partners, we continue to provide unrestricted support to maintain operations year over year. The facility is now home to 63 seniors receiving 24/7 assisted care, most of whom receive income assistance from the state. 

For the seniors who have lived in this neighborhood, some for over 25 years, Heritage House is the best next step for them,” says Sandra Dunn, Resident Advocate at Pike Market Senior Center. “Because they can stay in the Market. They can still come to the Senior Center and remain connected to their community.By aging in place and remaining in their chosen neighborhood, elders in the Market community maintain a multitude of health benefits, including preserved independence, social connections, slowed memory loss, and more.

Case manager Shea works with a resident at Heritage House.



Market resident John Carrey sits at his home in the Market. 

In 1993, the Market Foundation combined forces with the PDA to raise money for urgent exterior and interior repairs. This “Care for the Market “campaign helped leverage people’s love for Pike Place Market and converted it into public and private funds to repair the early 20th–century facades and renovate the agency facilities. In total, the Market Foundation raised $3.2 million: Half of that money went to the PDA for repairs on its existing housing. The other half seeded our quest to build new, larger facilities for the senior center, clinic and preschool.

2000-Present: Expanding affordable housing


By the 2000s, the Senior Center had expanded service and grown in numbers to the point where they were outgrowing their current space. By 2006 the PDA decided that the only solution was to build a new Senior Center on one of the historic district’s two undeveloped sites: the “Creamery” lot. Fortunately, zoning on the site allowed for a six-story structure so low-income housing was added in addition to the senior center: a net gain of 24 new apartments.  

The Market Foundation raised $2.5 million for the whole project. The LaSalle/Creamery project used Seattle city housing levy money, tax credits for low-income housing,  a community block grant from the city, and $970,000 in private donations raised through the Market Foundation’s “Care for the Market” campaign. “It was a dynamite housing project,” said former Market Foundation Executive Director Marlys Erickson. “In 1971 Seattle voters mandated that the Market serve low-income people. Developing new housing and expanding both the Senior Center and the Clinic carried on that mandate.”   

By 2003, Pike Place Market was seeing 10 million visitors a year and desperately needed core infrastructure system renovations. This renovation project was so large that it exceeded the scope of Foundation fundraising, and warranted a public funding vehicle like a levy.  

When the Mayor and City Council finally agreed to a ballot measure in 2007, the stipulation was that it could only fund infrastructure, and any repairs related to housing would have to be funded separately. “None of the levy funding could fund tenant improvements, because you can’t use public funds for private use,” explained Carol Binder, former PDA Executive Director. “The government owns the building, but the tenant leases the space, so it was a very fine line of what we were allowed to do.”  

The ballot measure was a success; work on the public infrastructure renovations began, and the Market Foundation began fundraising and pursuing other methods to fund the housing renovations. “Marlys and I brainstormed quite a bit on where the sources of these funds could come from,” remembers Carol. 

In 2007, raising money for housing repairs meant asking the State Legislature to give the PDA a $1 million appropriation for the Livingston Baker building. Carol Binder and Marlys Erickson worked tirelessly to get this into the state capital budgets, taking many road trips to Olympia to make their case before Washington legislators. Former President of the Market Foundation Board, Becky Bogard, was also instrumental in the lobbying strategy.  

Staff and board members successfully secured the appropriation, and housing repairs were underway. In total, 34 studio units were refurbished: with updates to the subfloor, replaced living area flooring, kitchen cabinets and bathrooms, flooring, and new windows in the Livingston building. “A great by-product of this effort was getting the plumbing fixed in the building so the Clinic would quit being flooded when a tenant, say, flushed a chicken down the toilet,” said Marlys. “Fixing the plumbing was necessary before the Clinic could start its construction.” 

“The housing repair took a lot of collaboration between the PDA and the Foundation,” said Carol. “We each had our own realms, down to the level of detail of ‘we can only plumb this part of the building, until we get into residential, we’ll show you the designs but you need to buy the sinks because we can’t use taxpayer money…’ We worked together very closely in that way.”


In 2014, there was a final resolution to a long fruitless effort to identify how to redevelop the last remaining urban infill site in the Market’s Historic District. “That parking lot in the Market had sat vacant for 40 years, and here was a rare opportunity,” said Rico Quirindongo, Acting Director of Seattle’s Office of Planning & Community Development who served on the PDA Council during the project. “An opportunity to try to look at what works in the Market, within the boundary of the historic district, and expand on that. And the charter would guide how we work together to create a solution: community input drives our decision-making process.” 

The “MarketFront” established a future connection between the Market and Seattle’s waterfront and replaced parking that would be lost after the viaduct removal. In addition to expanding retail space, table space, a public pavilion, and our new neighborhood center The Market Commons, the expansion also included Western Avenue Senior Housing. This new 40-unit residence building was built specifically for seniors on low incomes, with seven units designed to be live-work lofts for senior artists.

The Market Foundation raised $9.5 million for the entire project, in addition to helping secure $9 million in low-income tax credits and a Boeing Communities Grant to furnish the new housing units and The Market Commons. By developing the final piece of land in the historic Pike Place Market, the Market Foundation and our partners realized the dream of bringing this site to life for our neighborhood’s next chapter in expanding affordable housing and social services.

How we help support resident stability

Investing in an affordable and accessible living community is so much more than just the buildings. The Market Foundation has also helped support the residential community through several specialized service programs over the years. Take a look at how we have worked with our partners to sustain accessibility to housing and promote stability for Market residents:

Outreach Social Services & Resident Advocate Program

Resident Advocate Sandra Dunn with a client. Sandra has been supporting the senior residential community since 1993.

In the 1990s, the Foundation began working with the Senior Center & Food Bank, Clinic, and PDA to start the Resident Advocate Program, and offer specialized support to residents living in Market housing. “The residents in PDA buildings were getting older and older, and we needed somebody to work with people in their apartment,” said Marlys Erickson. “That’s when Sandra got hired.”

Sandra Dunn began working in the Market in 1993, in a new Resident Advocate position managed by Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank. “The position provided support to Building Managers, so they could focus on their work of managing the buildings,” she says. “It’s important to maintain that fine line so that they remain the housing piece, and we can be the social services, keeping people independent as long as possible.”

Today, the Outreach Social Services and Resident Advocate Program at Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank offers wrap-around support to keep seniors living in the Market community, ensuring they receive the care necessary to remain independent and healthy. As Outreach Social Services and Resident Advocates, Sandra Dunn and Shannon Bailey work together to bring in-home services to residents, and then help them transition to a higher level of care when the time comes. Shannon is also a longtime friend of the Market, as she began working at the Pike Market Clinic in 1987 and now brings her years of experience in community health and care management to the Market residential community.

“Our work is resident-centered,” explains Shannon. “Many of the people who live here don’t have family connections, they’re isolated. We are a bridge to connect them to their community. We try to provide a trusted space for people to come to. It’s not just social services, it’s a spot of safeness.”

Sandra and Shannon’s work has been crucial to supporting stability in the residential community, especially these past few years as they have worked tirelessly to keep seniors connected and safe during the pandemic. “We are going to do what it takes to keep them going,” says Shannon. “Yes,” agrees Sandra. “We will always take that extra step, whatever it takes.” 

Market Community Safety Net

In 2013, the Foundation combined our Emergency Rent Fund with community-supported, “pass-the-hat” efforts then being undertaken by Market crafter Sharon Shaw: resulting in the Market Community Safety Net. Today, this fund provides emergency financial and resource assistance to help members of the Market community maintain their housing and livelihood. Through the Market Community Safety Net, the Foundation has invested over $250,000 to support community members experiencing financial hardship.

The Market Commons

The Market Commons staff and PDA residential team.

In 2017 after an extensive community-wide needs assessment, the Market Foundation opened The Market Commons: a friendly and welcoming resource center on Western Avenue located within the new housing building.

The Market Commons seeks to support residents by building trusted relationships and helping them navigate hard times by connecting them to resources and help find the stability they need to thrive. The Commons also offers an array of community activities to bring neighbors together at Pike Place Market, working closely with the PDA residential team to help build social connections and support residents.


Since 1982, the Market Foundation has been honored to have helped fulfill the Pike Place Market’s charter to preserve a residential community for our neighbors living on low and fixed incomes. As our region and city continue to grapple with growing income inequality, we are committed to sustaining accessibility to affordable housing in the Market and building wraparound support for all residents living in our neighborhood. “I moved here almost 7 years ago,” said one Market resident. “Between the Clinic, Food Bank, Senior Center, and The Commons, I feel like I have a pretty good umbrella around me. Couldn’t say that before.”

In partnership with the Pike Place Market PDA, residential staff, and agency partners, we are all using our unique roles and working together to help maintain a vibrant community that makes Pike Place Market the “soul of Seattle”. “You need different multi-talented organizations to work together in a complementary way,” said John Turnbull. “It’s important to have partners that can do things that you can’t do on your own.”    

As we hit the incredible milestone of 40 years, we want to thank our partners, community members, staff, board, donors, and volunteers for being with us every step of the way. Your support helps nurture the health of our community and keep the Market strong now and for the next 40 years to come!  

 It is an honor to be celebrating 40 years in this community!

Celebrate the Market Foundation’s impact of $40 million invested over 40 years into the Market community!

We need your help to keep the Market strong now and for the next 40 years to come. Give today and join us in supporting a thriving Market where everyone can live their best life possible!

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Nurture the Next Chapter: Sustaining Pike Place Market for Future Generations

We’re thrilled to announce The Market Community Fund: a unique opportunity to transform individual giving into lasting, measurable change — connecting your philanthropic goals to your love for the Market. A gift today, or bequest from your Will or Trust in the future, provides a lasting legacy to the health and sustainability of the Market community.



Anniversary Stories: Heritage and Preservation

The Pike Place Market Foundation was founded in 1982 with the original mission to “preserve and enhance the traditions and diversity of the Pike Place Market community.” 

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Anniversary Stories: Investments in Social Services

For 40 years, the Pike Place Market Foundation has supported a downtown community of residents and workers, and the underlying network of social services designed to support them.

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Anniversary Stories: Evolution of the Market Foundation

As we celebrate this monumental anniversary, we’re looking back on our history and honoring the staff, service partners, volunteers and supporters who have helped nurture a thriving community in the Market.

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