Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Displacement of Latinos

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Oscar Cerrillo grew up in Mexico City and came to Seattle in 1990. He has worked at the Red Apple for 13 years and at a second restaurant job for 17 years. He works 60 - 75 hours a week, and helps his wife with her cleaning business on his days off, to help send his son and daughter to university. 

Oscar Cerrillo

A lot of hispanics who were in the apartment building next to the clinic had to leave. The building sold to someone who raised the rent ten times the amount. All the people I knew who lived there are gone. It was full of people from Mexico, and all of the sudden, they’re all gone. Goodbye. None of them are left. Big change. And they have to go far. They can’t find anything around here, especially because a lot of them have families. Living in Seattle is so expensive. That’s why we moved. We wanted to buy a house. I didn’t want to leave. We moved really far away. It’s so far. We never could have afforded a house here. 

There are lots of people who live close to the store, who don’t have cars, especially elderly customers, who come to the store walking, like from the Senior Home down the street, they come in wheelchairs to do their shopping. I don’t know what store they’ll go to. They will really be impacted. 

For example, there are people who come from Everett to buy meats that they can't find anywhere else. We sell a lot of things that are hard to find. Smoked pork, tripe. Those people will have to figure out where to find those things. 

There used to be a lot more people of color living here. Now there are more white people. That’s a big change I’ve noticed. So the kinds of food that we sell in the store has also changed. A lot more organic stuff, and fine cheeses. Lots of young white couples. And a lot of the people who were here before are leaving.