The Spokane City Council dipped into reserves Monday to fund two affordable housing projects.
The council unanimously approved a two-year funding plan totaling $280,000 to support services at The Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages.
The Carlyle, located on Post Street, is operated by Pioneer Human Services and will receive $100,000 per year. Home Yard Cottages, operated by Transitions, is located on Northwest Boulevard and will receive $40,000 annually.
The two facilities provide more than 100 units of affordable housing between them. The funding authorized by the council on Monday is not for the construction of new units, but to support existing services at each complex.
Whether or not the two projects were worthy of funding was never the subject of controversy.
The city last year approved a five-year funding schedule for homeless service providers that prioritized shelters over longer-term housing. That meant resources for projects like The Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages were scarce, and city officials hoped to fund them through other means.
Specifically, officials planned to use the new revenue stream from a state law adopted in 2019 that was intended to spur the development of affordable housing.
The legislation allowed local governments to redirect a portion of sales tax revenue, previously collected by the state, into affordable housing efforts.
But it turns out the support services at The Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages don’t qualify for funding under the state program, which was intended to cover capital costs associated with new housing development.
That forced city leaders to find a new way to fund the projects. Ultimately, the council dipped into its general fund reserves.
The city only needed to identify funding for the first two years of its five-year plan. In years three, four and five, it expects to be able to accommodate The Carlyle and Home Yard Cottages in its Community Health, Housing, and Human Services budget, according to CHHHS Director Tim Sigler.
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