The associate director for seniors and housing for Catholic Charities says every low-income apartment complex here owned by that nonprofit organization has greater demand than it can accommodate, which she believes it is a reflection of the continuous need for affordable housing.
“The statistics show that baby boomers haven’t saved the way our parents did. Every one of our properties has a waiting list,” says the associate director, Monique Kolonko.
One of those properties is the 150-unit Cathedral Plaza Apartments located at 1120 W. Sprague, in downtown Spokane.
A Catholic Charities affiliate named Catholic Housing Communities manages the 15-story building, one of the three oldest senior facilities in Spokane that the nonprofit built, Kolonko says.
Each floor has 10 630-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments, says assistant property manager Jamie Butler. Amenities include air conditioning, cable TV, a community room, secured limited access entrance, and an on-site laundry room, and pets are allowed there.
Says Kolonko, “I think it’s got the best views in Spokane.”
She says she’s been prodding her mother and brother to move to Spokane from Louisiana and into Cathedral Plaza. “I would love to move my mom there. I also have a brother who is qualified based on his age and income.”
Kolonko says, “What I like about Cathedral Plaza is the efficient flow of space in units and in the complex as a whole. There are not a lot of physical barriers for our more fragile residents. Plus, there’s a strong community within the building. Would I want to visit my family there? Yes, for sure.”
Cathedral Plaza was given its name by parishioners at the nearby Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes at 1115 W. Riverside. Kolonko says all Catholic Charities properties receive their names from parishioners.
In receiving federal funding for low-income senior housing, the U.S Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) prohibits owners from operating properties, Kolonko says. Consequently, the 18 residential properties owned by Catholic Charities across Eastern Washington are operated by Catholic Housing Communities, a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, she says.
Catholic Housing Communities was formed in 2006, and the following year, it began operating its own housing portfolio. The transition to self-management saved the nonprofit about $350,000, Catholic Charities says.
In addition to Cathedral Plaza, Catholic Charities owns The Delaney Apartments, at 242 W. Riverside downtown. Located two blocks from Riverfront Park, that complex has 84 one-bedroom and studio apartments.
Fahy Garden Apartments is at 1411 W. Dean and is a two-story complex offering 32 one-bedroom and studio apartments with free parking for tenants and guests and a bus stop nearby. Fahy West Apartments at 1523 W. Dean has 54 one-bedroom and studio apartments, also with free parking for tenants and guests. The Fahy buildings and Cathedral Plaza all opened in 1970.
The O’Malley apartment complex at 707 E. Mission has 99 one-bedroom units that are handicapped accessible with wide doorways and low countertops. And the Summit View Apartments at 820 N. Summit Blvd. offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom units that also offers handicap access.
Catholic Charities also owns senior apartment complexes in Clarkston, Colville, Pullman, and Walla Walla, Kolonko says.
At Cathedral Plaza, rental prices are based on 30 percent of a person’s adjusted income, Kolonko says. Eligible residents must be more than 62 years old, and no more than two people can occupy a unit, every one of which has a balcony.
The maximum income for tenants is $36,150 for one person and $41,130 for two people, Butler says.
In addition to having a residents’ council at Cathedral Plaza, Catholic Charities employs a full-time social services coordinator there to make sure residents have access to things they need, ranging from bus schedules to hours and locations of area public libraries, says Butler, adding that many residents enjoy being in the heart of urban life and having immediate access to downtown.
Butler says residents have access to an on-site library and computer room. “We keep a monthly calendar of birthdays and put together a monthly newsletter. This isn’t the kind of place where you’re going to move in here and just get lost.”
Resident John Sicilia, who’s lived at the complex for almost two years, says he appreciates the hired staff more than anything.
“The staff here couldn’t be better. They’re truly here to help. They’re very responsive to our requests,” Sicilia says. “They look out for people. If your face has been absent they come looking for you to make sure you’re alright.”
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