Pandemic Urbanism

May 15, 2020

Stories and Observations From the CID

By Carmen Hom (
Chinatown-International District Coalition

Coauthor: Marlon Herrera

The author will give this presentation at the Pandemic Urbanism Symposium in a session titled “Politics, Engagement & Activism,” from 10:15 – 11:15 AM on May 29, 2020.

The Chinatown-International District (CID) is a multiethnic, multigenerational neighborhood in the heart of Seattle. It is a neighborhood born from narratives of 19th and 20th century Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants. It has faced an extensive history of exclusion and displacement, which gave rise to a vibrant history of organizing and resistance. Today, the CID is one of Seattle’s neighborhoods with the highest risk of displacement.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has made the CID especially vulnerable. Starting as early as January, when the COVID-19 outbreak intensified in China, CID restaurants, tea shops, massage parlors and other small businesses in Chinatown began to experience drastic drops in business due to xenophobia. Since then, the CID has seen acts of targeted racism, increased vandalism, and threats of disaster gentrification, all while the community is battling a public health tragedy.

Organizations in this neighborhood have banded together to create networks of community care. These include the CID Coalition, PARISOL, InterIMCDA, and many more, all grounded in mutual aid. What has become possible is assistance the government cannot provide: grocery deliveries to elders, direct cash assistance to the undocumented, and the transformation of broken storefronts into murals. The CID community is the neighborhood “pod” model of a lasting network of support.

As a core member of the CID Coalition, I’ll share observations and stories of this community rooted in resilience. COVID-19 is another chapter of our story: a story about collective strength and mutual aid.