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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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City strikes deal with Catholic Charities for new affordable housing in northeast Spokane

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 17, 2019

Catholic Charities took another step toward developing a new affordable housing complex in northeast Spokane on Monday.

The Spokane City Council voted Monday to approve a $550,000 purchase and sale agreement that will allow Catholic Charities to build more than 70 units of affordable housing on city-owned land.

The project, known as Gonzaga Family Haven, is an undertaking of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, which plans to construct the apartment complex on currently city-owned property near Gonzaga Prep to serve homeless families.

“It’s a huge milestone for the project,” said Jonathan Mallahan, Catholic Charities’ vice president of housing.

Under the purchase and sale agreement approved Monday, Gonzaga Haven LLC and the city will each independently conduct an appraisal of the property to determine its fair market value. If the fair market value exceeds $1.05 million, the two parties will renegotiate the sale price.

Originally, the agreement had been structured so the final sale price of the property, which is owned by the water department, will be the average of those two appraisals.

“We’re really happy to come to an outcome that keeps the utility system whole,” Mallahan said.

The properties, located at the corner of North Foothills Drive and Hamilton Street, are currently used by the water department for employee parking. A small building on the site is used by a handful of enforcement employees who will have to be relocated, according to the city.

The housing complex is envisioned in part as a stepping stone for graduates of Catholic Charities’ Rising Strong program, which provides treatment and support to parents who are at risk of losing their children.

“This is a family property that is really intended to help families that have been struggling with a leg up and end that generational poverty,” Mallahan said.

Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Prep, both of which call the city’s northeast home, have pledged to integrate students and staff into the social support services provided for tenants at Gonzaga Family Haven.

With a purchase and sale agreement now approved, the last major obstacle for Catholic Charities is securing funding for the project. The nonprofit is counting on federal tax credits to fund a significant portion of the $20 million project, as it has for other affordable housing developments in the area.

The tax credit application will be filed in January and, if approved, Catholic Charities hopes to begin construction in 2020 and open the apartment complex in 2021.

The project was recently bolstered by a $5 million donation from the Day One Families Fund, a charityAmazon founder Jeff Bezos launched to contribute to early childhood education and organizations battling homelessness.

Under the agreement, Catholic Charities has until June 1 to conduct a feasibility study before finalizing the purchase. That deadline may be extended, with the city’s consent, to Oct. 1.

Catholic Charities is contractually obligated to dedicate the land to affordable housing for at least 40 years.

The parcels are 2809, 2811, 2817 and 2821 N. Nevada St. and 920 E. Wolverton Court.

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