January 15, 2011 in City

Grant to Catholic Charities enables housing for poor

‘Desperately needed’ units to abut House of Charity
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Vacancy rate

at 5.1 percent

Spokane, which has suffered from a chronic lack of dwellings for the poor, currently has an affordable housing vacancy rate of 5.1 percent, up from about 2 percent in 2007, when 150 downtown residents were displaced from three apartment buildings, said Cindy Algeo, executive director of the Spokane Low-Income Housing Consortium.

The vacancy rate for studio and 1-bedroom apartments is 3.9 percent.

Catholic Charities of Spokane announced plans to build a downtown housing complex for the city’s poorest residents to be financed almost entirely by a $2.5 million state grant.

The 50-unit complex will be built adjacent to the House of Charity shelter for homeless men, at 32 West Pacific Ave., on property now occupied by a storage building, said Rob McCann, executive director of Catholic Charities.

“This is something that is desperately needed and we’ve been trying to get for years,” McCann said.

The project, which will house chronically homeless and extremely low-income people receiving state disability, will form a Catholic Charities campus on the block where residents will have easy access to counseling, meals and other social services currently offered at the shelter.

McCann said the project is the result of Catholic Charities winning the Housing Trust Fund grant, which is administered by the state Department of Commerce for the creation of affordable housing.

“This is good news for the whole community, especially in downtown where we have lost a lot of housing,” he said.

The Catholic Charities project will be built in cooperation with Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral and Sacred Heart parishes, whose members will assist in design and implementation, McCann said.

Architects are Heylman Martin and Associates of Spokane, and construction will be overseen by Beacon Development of Seattle.

Catholic Charities, a social services organization, already has applied for federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for the project. McCann hopes ground will be broken in the fall following demolition of the A-Economy Storage building currently on the property.

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