Before the end of the month, previously homeless women and children will take up permanent residence in 24 new cottages in northwest Spokane.
The project, called Home Yard Cottages, held a grand opening ceremony Wednesday at its location at the cross streets of Hemlock Street and Fairview Avenue. Headed by the nonprofit group Transitions, the project aims to end poverty and homelessness for women and children in Spokane.
The nonprofit also operates Women’s Hearth, Transitional Living Center, EduCare, Miryam’s House and New Leaf Bakery Cafe.
None of the houses at Home Yard Cottages is complete yet, but the first family and individual tenants will move in in about two weeks.
One of them is Tuesday Durham, who lives in the Transitions Living Center that sits on the hill above the cottages. Durham said getting out of the transitional home and into a permanent place will let her three kids in Phoenix come back to live with her in Spokane, in addition to one who lives with her now.
“It means that I can rebuild my family,” she said with tears in her eyes.
With her stay in transitional housing ending in nine months, she said, she doesn’t know what she would do without her cottage.
The project cost $6.2 million and has been in the works for years. Each cottage is less that 1,000 square feet, and 15 of them are energy efficient and able to generate as much power as they spend. The largest cottages will hold a family of six.
“It’s a giant step forward to end homelessness in Spokane,” said Steven Jarvis, chair of the Transitions board.
There are a great many applications and a long waiting list for the cottages, but most of the families and individuals are still in the application process, said Shelby Berkompas, lead case manager.
Debra Morgan signed her paperwork Wednesday to move into one of the studio flats in the small neighborhood. She’s been living in the Hope House, an overnight shelter for women, for 3 1/2 months.
“I have a bad social anxiety disorder. I like having separate units,” she said while looking at the cottages, each one forming its own space. “You’re not having to deal with the noise. It’s a unique idea.”
She’ll be in her house at the end of next week, she said.
Funding the Home Yard Cottages came from private contributions, orders of nuns and city and state funding, Jarvis told a crowd of more than 150 who attended the grand opening. Jarvis credited Edie Rice-Sauer, Transitions’ executive director, with dealing with funding, ordinance changes, codes and even the dirt that construction crews used.
Spokane City Council member Karen Stratton, also in attendance, told the crowd, “The neighborhood you grow up in can be a huge impact on the person you will become.”
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