Spokane Journal of Business

Several housing projects here OK’d for financing

State commission’s nod totals $22 million locally

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The Washington state Housing Finance Commission has approved financing for three new Spokane building projects and a land acquisition here worth a total of $22 million, says commission spokeswoman Margret Graham.

The projects were funded, along with five others in the state, after seven nonprofits successfully competed for low-income housing tax credit allocations from the finance commission. The tax credits help affordable-housing developers raise capital for new buildings and renovations by selling the credits to investors. 

In Spokane projects, the commission approved $8.5 million in tax credit equity to help fund a $10 million, 51-unit, low-income housing project downtown by Catholic Charities of Spokane, The organization will offer permanent housing to chronically homeless men and women in a five-story, 35,000-square-foot apartment building that’s to be located in the 200 block of South Cowley, bordered by Second Avenue, Spokane Street, Short Avenue, and Cowley.

Although it hasn’t been named yet, the building will be similar to the $8 million, 51-unit Father Bach Haven Apartments that 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, according to an earlier Journal article. 

Spokane County also has allocated $1.2 million in funding to assist in construction of that project, says John Fisher, housing development manager for Catholic Charities.

In another project, with an estimated cost of $10 million, the commission has approved $8.1 million in tax credit equity sought by Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington for a 32,000-square-foot building that also will provide permanent housing for the formerly homeless, says Graham. That four-story structure, to be located at 223 E. Second, will have 50 studio and one-bedroom apartments, as well as a range of on-site services for residents.

Marilee Roloff, VOA spokeswoman, says construction will begin on that project in May. 

Also, the commission has approved $5.1 million in estimated tax credit equity to Community Frameworks, a community foundation with offices in Spokane and Bremerton, Wash., to go toward construction of a $6.7 million 32-unit apartment complex a mile north of downtown Spokane at 1431 N. Calispel. The organization also has received $1.2 million from Spokane County toward that project and another $200,000 from the city of Spokane. 

The new building will include 32 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit, and the organization’s offices also will move there. 

Max Benson, spokesman for Community Frameworks, says 20 percent of the living units will be available to those who have experienced homelessness. Construction on the building is planned to begin this summer and is expected to be completed in about 12 months, Benson says. 

In addition to the three housing projects, the commission also approved a $300,000 loan through its land acquisition program to help Catholic Charities buy a half-acre lot at 20 E. Sprague for future development, Graham adds. No decision has been made yet regarding how the land will be developed. 

The land acquisition program is a revolving loan fund allowing nonprofit organizations to buy land for later development of affordable housing.

Funding for the projects come in the form of estimated tax credit equity, which is subsequently sold to investors. The capital funds, which have to be raised by the organizations involved, are viable over a 10-year period.

The commission also approved a mix of tax-credit equity and tax-exempt note funding for five other projects, in Seattle, Tacoma, Redmond, Olympia, and Othello, which together with the projects here totaled more than $105 million in financing support.

 The biggest share of the approved financing—totaling more than $40 million—will be used to renovate the dilapidated former Winthrop hotel in downtown Tacoma, which was built in 1925 as the city’s flagship hotel and was converted to 194 affordable apartments in 1972.

In all, the commission said the seven new developments—plus the one historic renovation—will create or renovate 575 affordable apartments across the state.

 The commission is a publicly accountable, self-supporting entity. Over 30 years, the commission claims it has created and preserved affordable homes for more than 307,000 people across the state.

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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