I would like to express my support for the proposed senior housing project that St. John Vianney Church is requesting. The project proposes a 38- to 40-unit apartment building for low-income seniors.
For whatever reason, some residents of Walnut Road have come to believe that this will endanger their neighborhood. I would like to remind them and the Spokane Valley City Council that this is a low-income senior housing. Many of the people this housing would benefit have been members of this community for most of their lives. These are people who have contributed to the community through the church, Meals on Wheels, the Valley Center, Habitat for Humanity and many other programs to help those less fortunate than many of us.
This morning, The Spokesman-Review quoted one neighbor, Shelly Stevens, as saying that the church has not been a good neighbor. “Good neighbors stop when they’re asked to stop,” she said. And another neighbor, Karen Strauss, saying that she is concerned about children in the neighborhood. “You’re going to have a lot of elderly people wandering around,” she said. “I just fear for the children’s safety.”
I would like to set the record straight about the church not being a good neighbor. I worked in the office at St. John Vianney for nine years. In that time I was privileged to see what a good neighbor the church has been. I have seen thousands of bags of groceries handed out to the needy and thousands of dollars spent to help neighbors with rent, utilities, food, transportation, medical costs and other needs. In the fiscal year 2009-’10, the parishioners of St. John Vianney donated and spent more than $50,000 toward these many needs.
It saddens me deeply to know that we are now being told that we cannot assist these people who have helped so many over the course of the years.
The role of the church is to share the good news of our Lord Jesus, and this is accomplished in many ways, whether through our poverty fund, religious education, Sunday Masses, etc. I would invite any of the neighbors who fear this project to join us on Sundays, meet the people of the church and find out who we really are. St. John Vianney has many wonderful parishioners who love the neighborhood just as much as anyone else.
Please allow us to help our low-income seniors by providing housing next to the church they love. I really don’t see mobs of elderly people roaming aimlessly around the neighborhood harming children. If anything, they would give the shirt off their back to help any one of their neighbors in need.