Longtime residents of Seattle's Central Area, many of them African-American, have been worried about the increasing cost of living there as rents skyrocket and home prices soar.

Then the property tax bills arrived in the mail.

“I'm 74 years old. How much longer can I afford to pay taxes?” Wright pondered.

King Co. public records show their property tax bill going from $7,094 in 2017 to $8,152 in 2018. The couple paid $5,037 in 2015.

They've lived in their house since 1968 and are among a dwindling number of longtime black residents who can still call the Central Area and surrounding neighborhoods home.

“You have to pay it or move,” she said.

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Wright is the founder and director of the Total Experience Gospel Choir. Groups like hers are part of the cultural fabric of the Central Area, and arts advocates worry the community will lose even more of its soul as people are forced to contemplate leaving.

“The Central District was a traditionally African-American neighborhood, and so our legacy and our stories and traditions are rooted here,” said Carol Rashawnna Williams, program administrator of the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District.

“We are actually on a mission to protect legacy and vitality and help the African-American culture thrive through arts,” she said.

That's a tough task these days. The property tax hike is yet another hurdle, potentially forcing more longtime families out of the area.

“Oh, it's accelerating,” Williams said.

“The pace has changed rapidly,” Wright said.

She says moving is a very real possibility these days. If she did leave, she said she’d go back to Texas where she grew up.

“I’m not moving anywhere in Seattle,” she said.