February 26, 1997 in Nation/World

Spokane Falls Short In Award Of Tax Credits For Low-Income Housing

Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Revi
 

A partnership of business, government and community service organizations is rehabilitating five old apartment buildings and homes in Spokane.

Casas Salvadas (“Saved Homes” in Spanish) is a $1.6 million project that taps half a dozen funding sources to create 25 affordable, low-income housing units for those in need.

The collection of buildings is scattered in the West Central, Emerson-Garfield, and East Central neighborhoods. Heading the project is Spokane Housing Ventures, a spinoff of Northwest Regional Facilitators, a nonprofit foundation based in Spokane.

The key piece of financing needed to make the project possible, says Helen Stevenson of Northwest Regional Facilitators, is a newly announced tax-credit of $111,341 a year for 10 years.

The money for Spokane is a tiny fraction of more than $8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Washington Housing Finance Commission to communities around the state. The tax credits will enable owner/developers of 29 low-income projects to raise upwards of $48 million in funding for 1,172 affordable rental apartment units across the state.

But of that number, Spokane will receive only $111,341 for 25 units.

Is this community getting shortchanged by Olympia again?

Seattle and other Puget Sound basin communities garnered funding for several hundred units. Bellingham and even Bellevue, wealthy as they are, both got more money for low-income housing than Spokane. Pullman is rehabilitating 50 units - twice Spokane’s number. Wenatchee has four projects totaling 132 units - five times the number here.

Why wasn’t more allocated for Spokane, where the need for affordable housing is greater?

Says Stevenson, “It takes a ton of coordination to do these types of projects.

“These are complicated funding resources. You have to apply, and compete for them. Until a couple of years ago, folks on this side of the state weren’t sophisticated enough to know how to go after these funds.”

King County, Stevenson said, “is very sophisticated in the use of tax credits and other grants for all kinds of things.”

Wenatchee has a community action council, which apparently has brought to bear the necessary expertise and energy.

Bellevue could be targeting the elderly, she said. A lot of complexes for the elderly use these tax credits.

Sisters depart sister organizations

Sandy Baldwin bids farewell to the Spokane Area Economic Development Council this Friday, after 10 years as office manager.

She and her husband will do some traveling, then she plans to stay home for a time. Said Baldwin of so much freedom, “It’s spooky. I’ve never taken a break like this before in 26 years.”

Different parts of her job as office manager are being parceled out to others. EDC has made deep cuts in programs, staff and costs in recent months. “We don’t even serve donuts at board meetings,” said Baldwin.

Meantime, Sandy Baldwin’s sister, Sue Wright, has left the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce, where she was secretary to the president, Rich Hadley.

“We used to laugh about being sisters working for sister business organizations,” says Baldwin. Now both sisters are moving on. Wright has joined Nextlink telecommunications company as administrative assistant.

And finally, Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter has departed the third of the sister triumvirate, the Spokane Convention & Visitors Bureau. Wheatley-Billeter, the bureau’s director of communications the past three years, has joined KSPS-TV as manager of marketing and outreach.

“I enjoyed my job at the bureau immensely,” said the veteran radio and television newscaster, “but this was a careeradvancement opportunity that I couldn’t let pass.”

Spokane Club adding outdoor dining

An upscale open-air dining establishment with a panoramic view of gracious architecture and an inviting street scene is under construction at Riverside and Monroe.

The project is an outdoor dining addition to the Spokane Club with seating for 40 on a raised terrace.

“It’s a very attractive scene just outside our front doors, and we’ve decided to make the most of it,” said club manager Alan Arsenault. “We think people will enjoy eating dinner and sipping cocktails with an unobstructed view of the Cathedral, the Spokesman-Review Tower, the park-like beauty of this historic neighborhood.”

As to street talk that the Spokane Club is buying the adjacent Chamber of Commerce Building, Arsenault said, “It’s a pleasing idea but not so.” At least, not at this time.

Any offer by the Spokane Club awaits a final decision by the chamber, the Spokane Area Economic Development Council and the Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau on whether to colocate elsewhere.

, DataTimes MEMO: Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482..

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review

Associate Editor Frank Bartel writes a notes column each Wednesday. If you have business items of regional interest for future columns, call 459-5467 or fax 459-5482..

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Frank Bartel The Spokesman-Review


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email