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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Housing merger: Catholic Charities, Spokane Housing Ventures join forces for ‘greater fulfillment of our shared mission’

John Hancock stands in a new apartment at Jayne Auld Manor, one of Spokane Housing Ventures’ newest projects on Thursday, September 24, 2020, in Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Two longtime affordable housing providers in Spokane have combined forces.

The housing arm of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington and Spokane Housing Ventures merged in December, but it was announced on Tuesday.

The transition will nearly double the number of affordable housing units overseen by Catholic Charities Housing Services of Eastern Washington, from 1,300 to more than 2,500, according to a news release.

The two nonprofits merged in an effort to become more efficient, which they say will benefit the residents they serve and allow them to develop more affordable housing at a time of significant need.

“This merger will benefit residents, grow development opportunities, create operating efficiencies, and most importantly, lead to a greater fulfillment of our shared mission than could be accomplished separately,” said Rob McCann, CEO of Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, in a statement. “For decades to come, thousands of individuals in our community will now have access to affordable, safe homes in a community that reflects their inherent value.”

Catholic Charities will now manage 60 properties of affordable housing with more than 4,000 residents. About one-quarter of those residents are seniors, and slightly more are part of a family. Nearly 400 of those residents are formerly homeless.

By definition, an affordable housing unit costs its tenant no more than 30% of their income in rent and utilities.

The two nonprofits, both of which have a focus on developing and maintaining affordable housing, had explored a merger for more than a year leading up to Tuesday’s announcement.

Spokane Housing Ventures was formed in 1992 as a subsidiary to Community Frameworks.

For residents of properties formerly managed by Spokane Housing Ventures, the change means they now have access to the services offered by Catholic Charities, such as mental health counseling and medical transportation.

Due to the financial efficiencies created by the merger, Catholic Charities believes it will be able to enhance the services offered to its residents.

Some of those benefits will be immediate, such as Catholic Charities’ security team and policy of not evicting tenants solely because they are behind on rent. Others will take time to implement, according to Catholic Charities spokesperson Sarah Yerden.

“(Catholic Charities) is in process of hiring additional case management staff to work directly with eligible residents to enroll them in rent subsidy and other public programs that can provide immediate support,” Yerden wrote in an email. “As efficiencies of the merger are realized, savings will be reinvested in additional staffing to provide the on-site supportive services characteristic of (Catholic Charities) properties.”

Catholic Charities also expects to be better equipped to develop new properties with the combined resources of the two nonprofits, which already have several projects in development.

The merger is expected to be particularly beneficial to rural areas.

“In addition to preserving existing housing, we will work to develop new housing in rural communities and are targeting the creation of at least one new project in rural communities each year,” Yerden wrote.

Catholic Charities is committed to not laying any employees off for reasons related to the merger for at least 12 months, according to Yerden.