Spokane Journal of Business

Catholic Charities plans 51-unit housing project east of downtown Spokane

Work on $5 million building slated to begin next spring

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Catholic Charities of Spokane, one of the area’s largest social-service nonprofits, is in the initial design stages on a $5 million, 51-unit low-income housing project downtown, says John Fisher, housing development manager for Catholic Charities. 

The planned five-story apartment building, which is to offer permanent housing to chronically homeless men and women, will be located in the 200 block of South Cowley, bordered by Second Avenue, Spokane Street, and Short Avenue, he says.

The new apartment complex will be modeled after the $8 million, 51-unit Father Bach Haven Apartments Catholic Charities owns at 108 S. State. That complex, which opened in January 2013, was the first apartment complex devoted entirely to housing the chronically homeless in Spokane, says Fisher.

Fisher says the organization has tentative plans to break ground on the building on Cowley next April, and it anticipates a 10-month construction schedule. Catholic Charities is working with Spokane-based Nystrom+Olson Architecture on the initial schematic design. Fisher says a contractor will be chosen in the next few months. 

Spokane County has recommended allocating $1.2 million to Catholic Housing Services of Eastern Washington, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, to assist in funding construction.

Additional funding will come from low-income housing tax credits awarded from Washington state. In recent years, available funding to help the homeless has moved away from shelters and toward permanent housing.

The new apartment complex hasn’t been named yet, Fisher says. “There is a collaboration of Catholic parishes in Spokane working to name the new building,” he adds. 

Units will be a mix of studio and one-bedroom apartments, each of which will have about 400 to 500 square feet of space, respectively, he says. 

“The units will be designed to accommodate one or two residents,” Fisher says. 

All units will have a full kitchen and bath, and will be moderately furnished. An on-site laundry room, computer lab with four workstations, several community rooms, and space outdoors for a community garden are included in the plans. A volunteer will provide access for residents to counseling services and other resources in the community. 

Fisher says the focus of the project will be to help residents, who typically have problems with chronic homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues, to gain employment and maintain a stable, permanent home. 

Tenants will be required to sign leases, and rent will depend on a tenant’s income but will be subsidized by the Spokane Housing Authority, Fisher says. 

“Rent will depend on income, but will not be more than 30 percent of their net income,” he says. 

Catholic Charities owns several permanent, low-income facilities that offer housing for families and seniors.

Judith  Spitzer
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Reporter Judith Spitzer covers technology, mining, agriculture, and wood products for the Journal. A vintage-obsessed antique collector in her off hours, Judith worked as a journalist in Colorado and Oregon before joining the Journal.

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