Two permanent affordable housing projects in Spokane were in line for city funding. Until they weren’t.
After learning the Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages are ineligible for the funding they were promised last year, the city was left scrambling to find $280,000 to help fund their operation for the next two years.
With no other options available, the Spokane City Council will vote Monday on a proposal to pull the funds from its general reserves, unless it finds another viable source.
Despite being left out of the first two years of its five-year funding schedule set in 2019 – which prioritized funding for shelters – city officials had promised to fund the affordable housing facilities through new sales tax revenue.
It turned out, however, doing so is not allowed.
The city is expecting new revenue thanks to the adoption of a new state law last year. Part of an effort to increase affordable housing access statewide, the law allows local governments to take a portion of sales tax destined for the state’s coffers and redirect it into local affordable housing projects.
In Spokane, that’s expected to result in about $7.8 million for affordable housing over the next 20 years.
But the city can’t pull from that pool to fund the programming at the Carlyle or Home Yard Cottages.
“We’re just having to go back to the table … we want to make sure the funding happens, so we have to revisit as to where that funding is going to come from,” said city spokeswoman Kirstin Davis.
Council President Breean Beggs said it’s not entirely certain the funding will be pulled from reserves, adding there could be space in the budget due to the high number of unfilled positions as a new mayor steps into office and begins to hire.
“They’re very important and have very good outcomes,” Beggs said of the Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages, “but we’re still exploring what space there is in the current budget that’s not going to be spent.”
After the next two years, the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services is expected to have the funding free in its budget in years three, four, and five of the city’s five-year plan.
If the funding is approved by the council, Home Yard Cottages would receive $40,000 annually for the next two years. The Carlyle would receive $100,000 annually.
Home Yard Cottages opened in 2018 and is operated by Transitions, a nonprofit that provides a variety of housing and related services. Transitions also operates Miryam’s House, a transitional living facility, and Women’s Hearth, a day center for women.
Edie Rice-Sauer, executive director of Transitions, said the funding would cover some of the case management costs for people who live in the cottages, all of whom have experienced homelessness.
The Carlyle, located on South Post Street, has 74 affordable housing units, the majority of which are studio apartments. It is operated by Pioneer Human Services, a Seattle-based nonprofit that also operates the Phoenix Transitional Housing Program and Pathway House in Spokane.
A representative for Pioneer could not be reached on Wednesday.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on February 21, 2020 to correct the amount that Home Yard Cottages would receive annually based on the proposal that the Spokane City Council is expected to consider on February 24, 2020.
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