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$16 million homeless complex once rejected for east Pasco finds new Tri-Cities home

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 29, 2020

By Allison Stormo Tri-City Herald

PASCO – A controversial $16 million housing project for homeless Tri-Citians received a giant push forward Tuesday with a $3 million grant.

The 60-unit apartment complex known as Pasco Haven will be at the corner Lewis Street and 20th Avenue and will house chronically homeless individuals.

Nearly a year ago, the Pasco City Council rejected selling land to the nonprofit in another part of town for the project.

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington was awarded the state and national housing trust funds through the Washington State Department of Commerce. The nonprofit is a religious organization but is not part of the Catholic Church.

The award was part of $97 million in grants and loans awarded statewide by the Department for Affordable Housing.

Residents of the new apartments will have been homeless for an extended period of time and have a qualifying disability, such as mental illness, substance abuse or addiction.

The grant along with support from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and a grant from Benton County will all but ensure the project can move forward next year, said Jonathan Mallahan, Catholic Charities’ vice president of housing.

Mallahan told the Herald that there are a number of permits and formal steps that need to be taken before construction can begin, but he believes ground could be broken by late spring or early summer. Construction is expected to take about a year.

Last January, Catholic Charities tried but failed to buy land for the project from the city after a severe backlash from many surrounding community members in the area of East Lewis and East “A” streets.

Moving forward

Catholic Charities ultimately bought land from a private land owner, and Mallahan expects that the project will be able to move forward in the new location without the concerns previously experienced.

The “permanent supportive housing” project is the first of its magnitude in the Tri-Cities, Mallahan said.

“I think this is a great thing for the community,” Carol Moser, the executive director of Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health. “We all need to take care of our homeless population in our own cities.”

The project will include support services on site, including case management workers as well as built-in space for counseling, substance-abuse intervention and groups offering their services – ranging from legal aid, to life skills in learning to acquire a bus pass and grocery shopping and cooking for themselves.

“Our goal is to help train our residents to improve their own well being instead of doing it for them,” Mallahan said.

While each apartment includes a full kitchen, the community area also will include a full kitchen where they can offer cooking classes and more.

“I think we are seeing an increase number of homeless people in our community,” Moser said. “The important element is treatment and supportive services that accompany this project.”

The Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington covers Franklin County, while projects in Benton County are overseen by Catholic Charities of Central Washington.

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