Our Mission

Advancing social justice and equity for low income, Asian and Pacific Islanders, refugee, and immigrant communities.

Who We Are

We are a nonprofit affordable housing and community development organization based in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District (CID). Since 1969 InterIm CDA (ICDA) provides multilingual, culturally competent housing and community building services to those disenfranchised due to lack of English, low acculturation and poverty. Though historically ICDA’s focus was on the API community living in the CID, we currently serve low-income limited APIs, refugee, and immigrant communities throughout Puget Sound.

Our Board

Andrew Liu, M.E., President

Marie Wong, PhD, Vice Chair

Dick Woo, CPA CGMA, Treasurer

Gary Iwamoto, JD, Secretary

Curtis McGuire

Kimbra Wellock, AICP

Nick Ling

Dihong Shao

Elaine Ishihara

Karen Sakata

Our Staff

Seeded in the Roots of the CID

The Chinatown International District (CID) is an urban, richly ethnic neighborhood, the long-established cultural home for Seattle’s Pan-Asian American community. It is the only neighborhood in America where Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants settled together. When Asian immigrants first arrived in Seattle, they faced many obstacles. Because of alien land laws, they could not own homes. Because of racially restrictive covenants, they could not live in many neighborhoods. Immigrants congregated to Chinatown, Nihonmachi (Japantown), or Manilatown because there they were welcomed. There was a sense of familiarity with their homeland. It made for an easier transition to life in America to be among their own people with similar life experiences and with the capacity to practice and maintain cultural traditions. With the emergence of the Southeast Asian community, Little Saigon has added to the District’s rich Pan-Asian American heritage.

Today, the unique blend of ethnic restaurants, specialty shops, social service agencies, and community organizations continues to hold a special place for both newly arrived immigrants and native born. It was the concern for the welfare and future of this neighborhood that led to the creation of the International District Improvement Association and later InterIm Community Development Association or “InterIm CDA.”

1970’s – InterIm makes its presence known

Much of the CID was bulldozed to make space for I-5 in the 1950’s and by the mid-1960s prostitution, assaults and shootings were common occurrences. Furthermore, many owners could not afford the required upgrades to meet updated fire and housing codes so many buildings were abandoned. The battle over the Kingdome served to expose society’s neglect of Asian Americans – lack of decent housing, inadequate social services and continuing discrimination leaving the CID in a state of urban decay. It was in these condition that InterIm CDA was born.

InterIm CDA under Bob Santos became a magnet for young Asian activists and professionals with fresh and innovative ideas toward serving the community. The first 10 years of InterIm CDA’s existence was highly productive.

In 1973, UW School of Social Work and InterIm CDA found the seed money for Asian Counseling and Referral Service and International Community Health Services. Both have grown into multi-service agencies that provide care to thousands throughout the region.

In the summer of 1975 the Danny Woo Community Garden was born. A barren hillside, rife with weeds and sticker bushes, overlooking I-5 seemed like the ideal spot. Agreements were negotiated with the City of Seattle and the Woo Family. Community work parties were organized, bringing together young Asian activists and work crews from El Centro de la Raza and the United Indians of All Tribes. To celebrate the completion of the garden, InterIm instituted the annual summer community pig roast in the garden which continues today.

In early 1976, a child locked in her apartment while her mother was at work set a fire. In response InterIm CDA with Denise Louie developed a day care center. Tragically, Denise was murdered in San Francisco. The daycare center was named in her honor and now is home for Head Start and Early Head Start and other assistance for families in need.

Bob hired some of the young activists to organize the elderly Filipino and Chinese residents living in the hotels and apartments, badly in need of repair or renovation. These organizing efforts resulted in the creation of the International District Housing Alliance which has served thousands of low income seniors and families living in the CID and beyond.

1980’s – Threats to the neighborhood

The 1980s was a decade of continuing threats to the CID. On June 1, 1981, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes were murdered at their cannery workers’ union office because of their efforts to reform the corrupt dispatching system of their union and because of their roles as leaders of the opposition to the Marcos regime in the Philippines. On February 19, 1983, 13 people were murdered during a robbery at the Wah Mee Club, the single worst mass killing in the state. The murders in both incidents left the cumulative impression that the CID was a not a safe place to work, live or visit.

There were also positive changes as well. By the mid-1980s, Vietnamese refugees opened convenience stores, travel agencies, hair salons, grocery stores and restaurants which gave rise to “Little Saigon.” With so many new families and very little green space InterIm took a lead role, based on a suggestion by Donnie Chin, in creating a children’s park. Funded by the Seattle Parks Department, the Donnie Chin International Children’s Park was completed in 1981.

1990’s – Housing for the poor

InterIm CDA made conscious efforts to meet with property owners to encourage them to renovate their buildings. There had been a hesitancy among Chinese family associations to apply for federal housing money because of a belief that public funds had strings attached and would restrict their control over occupancy. InterIm CDA made a presentation to the Gee How Oak Tin Association the largest Chinese family association in Washington State. The owners became converts and their building was renovated with federal funds. The successful completion of the Gee How Oak Tin Building led to the development of the Rex Apartments and the the N.P. Hotel. The N.P. Hotel was the first project in which InterIm CDA was not only the housing developer but the owner as well. Interim CDA now owns 5 buildings which provide affordable housing to approximately 1000 residents.

During the 1990s, InterIm CDA worked closely with the Lao hill tribe communities of the Hmong, Kmhu, and Mien. In recognition of their common housing and social struggles, InterIm CDA assisted with establishing a new nonprofit, the Lao Highland Association, and led the development of the Lao Highland Community Resource Center, today known as the Iu Mien Community Center.

In 1999, InterIm became a founding member of the National Coalition for Asia Pacific American Community Development, a national organization that now numbers over 100 AAPI community-based groups that advocates and provides policy analysis related to issues facing low-income AAPI communities

2000’s – Adapting to change

In the last 10 years, InterIm CDA has continued to evolve. It has embraced environmental justice as integral to its mission with the WILD youth program, upgrades to the Garden and street projects to honor the legacy of the forced removal and mass incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during WWII.

It has also embraced the delivery of direct services to clients. In 2012, InterIm CDA and the International District Housing Alliance merged. It represented the first time that InterIm engaged in direct service delivery to clients. The merger was entered into because of the belief that it would improve the ability of both agencies to obtain government contracts and foundation support and to make a stronger connection between the housing that InterIm develops and the residents that InterIm serves. And it has. Approximately 4,000 clients were provided with Homeless Prevention and Housing Counseling Services, over 250 youth participated with the WILD program, and over 70 seniors have kept garden plots in the Danny Woo Garden.

In 2016, InterIm CDA partnered with Swedish Hospital, SCIDpda, International Community Health Services, city and county health departments, and other community-based agencies to develop the 2020 Healthy Community Action Plan. The Plan identifies strategies and practices needed to improve the health, safety, and livability of the community. The Plan calls for increasing investments in public spaces and safety; stabilizing and enriching residential and business community and influencing decision-making and policy around issues affecting community health.

2010’s – Honoring the Legacy

In the early morning on July 23, 2015, Donnie Chin was murderedt. Donnie’s death was deeply felt within the community because he was its protector. The community meeting space at Hirabayashi Place was named, the “Donnie Chin Community Room,” with an accompanying photo exhibit by Dean Wong to honor Donnie’s contribution to InterIm and the community.

In 2016  Hirabayashi Place was completed. In addition to creating 96 low income apartments and a childcare center run by El Centro de la Raza, InterIm CDA incorporated the life story of Gordon Hirabayashi within the context of the history of the local Japanese American community as part of the building’s design. Hirabayashi had taken a principled stand against the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. A mural, “the American Patriot” commissioned by InterIm CDA from noted artist Roger Shimomura is on permanent display in the lobby of the building.

On August 27, 2016, Bob Santos passed away. Bob had been the strongest advocate for the welfare of the International District.  His passage had a profound effect on those who knew him or knew of him. On any list of names who made significant contributions to the preservation of the International District, the name “Bob Santos” would surely top that list.

In 2017, InterIm CDA started work on its current major project, Uncle Bob’s Place – a new, mixed-use project that includes 126 affordable units and 6,500 square feet for restaurant/retail use apartment building. The 15,360-square-foot property is on the northwest corner of South King Street and Eighth Avenue South, the former home of the Four Seas Restaurant, just below South Jackson Street and west of the freeway. InterIm CDA is pleased to be partnering on this development with the Chan family, long time owners of the Four Seas Restaurant. The Chan Family will own the commercial space at Uncle Bob’s Place. Units will range from studios to three-bedrooms. Some will have balconies. Total project size is about 89,500 square feet. InterIm CDA hopes to complete the project by early 2022.

While Bob is the person most identified with InterIm, he would have shared the credit with those who followed in his footsteps as Executive Director–Sue Taoka, Ken Katahira, Frank Kiuchi, Elaine Ko, Hyeok Kim, Andrea Akita, and currently Pradeepta Upadhyay, the staff, too numerous to name, although special recognition should be made for Tom Im and Leslie Morishita who have both been associated with InterIm for more than 25 years, and the board, whose members are also too numerous to name.

Fifty years of serving the community is a milestone of endurance, commitment, and accomplishment. It is a legacy to honor and appreciate.


1969: International District Improvement Association (InterIm) was incorporated, today known as InterIm CDA.

1971: The Kingdome was being planned, and the community and InterIm CDA protested and held demonstrations to protect the neighborhood and its residents.

1974: InterIm CDA helped form ID Community Health Clinic, later to become International Community Health Services (ICHS); InterIm CDA organized a working group to draft language that in 1975 became SCIDPDA.

1975: Based on feedback from elders in the community, Bob Santos of InterIm CDA led activists and volunteers to create the Danny Woo Community Garden.

1977: InterIm CDA helped form the Denise Louie Early Childhood Education Center.

1979: InterIm CDA helped form the International District Housing Alliance.

1981: InterIm CDA and other community organizations helped create the International Children’s Park, now the Donnie Chin International Children’s Park.

1990: SCIDpda and InterIm CDA lobby for Metro property for ID Village Square.

1991: InterIm CDA renovated the Gee How Oak Tin Apartments, creating 21 affordable apartments.

1994: InterIm CDA acquired the NP Hotel, creating 63 affordable apartments.

1996: InterIm CDA renovated the Rex Hotel, creating 30 affordable apartments.

1997: ID Housing Alliance created the Wilderness Inner-City Leadership Development, WILD, the youth leadership program.

1998: InterIm CDA helped create Highland Gardens Family Housing in Issaquah, creating 51 affordable apartments; InterIm CDA renovated the Eastern Hotel, creating 47 affordable apartments; InterIm CDA and the CIDBIA implemented Jackson Street Streetscape Improvements, including the columns under I-5, the planting of blossoming cherry trees along the Little Saigon portion of S Jackson Street, as well as having the City of Seattle officially recognize the name of Little Saigon.

2006: InterIm CDA created Nihonmachi Terrace Family Housing, creating 41 new apartments.

2008: InterIm CDA secured property at 5th and Main property at 5th and Main for workforce housing, eventually to become Hirabayashi Place.

2009: InterIm CDA created Samaki Commons Family Housing, creating 41 new low income apartments; InterIm CDA completed the Green Street Project on Maynard Ave.; InterIm CDA started the Children’s Garden and added a chicken coop to the garden.

2012: InterIm CDA and ID Housing Alliance merged.

2013: InterIm CDA led a neighborhood beautification project with Urban Artworks artists painting columns on King Street under the I-5 freeway; InterIm CDA organized 100 volunteers to fold 3000 origami cranes to create an inspirational message in a temporary art installation honoring Gordon Hirabayashi’s courageous stance for justice at the future location of Hirabayashi Place.

2016: InterIm CDA completed Hirabayashi Place, creating 96 new workforce apartments and Legacy of Justice, a public art installation honoring Gordon Hirabayashi. InterIm CDA releases the 2020 Community Health Action Plan.