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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Two low-income apartment complexes in Spokane will each get nearly $1 million from state for renovations

The Hoffman Apartments at 2024 E. Hoffman Ave. are a 16-unit affordable housing complex run by the nonprofit Community Framework. Roughly 25 people live in the complex.  (Marshall E. Peterson Jr.)

OLYMPIA – Two affordable housing complexes in Spokane will soon get nearly $1 million each in state grant funding for renovation.

The Washington State Department of Commerce announced this week that it will send roughly $850,000 in maintenance money to both the Cornerstone Courtyard Apartments at 151 S. Adams St. and the Hoffman Apartments at 2024 E. Hoffman Ave.

The money is part of a $20 million investment by the state agency sent to 14 counties in the state as part of Washington’s Housing Preservation Program. The funding will reportedly help housing authorities and other regulators maintain 873 affordable housing units across the state.

Nine of this year’s projects are located in King County, and the 22 others are distributed throughout other counties.

The investment by commerce comes in the wake of Washington’s rapidly worsening housing affordability and homelessness crisis that’s taking a toll on urban and rural communities. State officials estimate Washington will need to find space and build more than 1 million new housing units over the next 20 years to keep up with the state’s projected population growth.

When people think of investments in affordable housing, what typically comes to mind is new home construction, said Ashley Martin, the asset manager with affordable housing nonprofit Community Frameworks.

“This funding from commerce is really important to us, because there aren’t many funding opportunities we get to preserve affordable housing,” Martin said in an interview. “A lot of the efforts are placed on building new units.”

Community Frameworks bought the Hoffman Apartments complex in 2012 with funding from the state Department of Commerce and the city of Spokane. At the time of purchase, the 16-unit building was 50 years old and still had many of its original fixtures.

Some of this year’s grant money from the state will go toward replacing fixtures at the Hoffman apartments – such as bathroom fans and windows – to help lower utility bills for tenants, Martin said. Building management also plans to install security lights on the exterior of the complex, fix up the roof and install new smoke detectors in units.

But the biggest project building management plans to tackle is building ramps to make the first-floor units ADA-accessible. Right now, tenants and visitors must descend stairs to reach first-floor apartments and walk up stairs to reach second- and third-floor units.

If everything goes as planned, Community Frameworks hopes to have all the updates to the Hoffman Apartments done within 12 months.

“This money from commerce is one of the main ways we are able to keep providing affordable housing to make sure the building is up to an adequate living standard,” Martin said, adding that financial help to update the building prevents renovation costs from driving up tenants’ rent.

Between 25 and 30 people reside in the Hoffman Apartments. The three-story complex is a mix of one- and two-bedroom units.

The Hoffman Apartments are designed for people who can’t afford market rent, Community Frameworks president Deb Elzinga said. In her eyes, state-funded affordable housing helps every resident in a town or city.

“Too often, especially in the last few years, people are having to make hard choices: Choices about what to buy at the grocery store and whether or not to go to the doctor,” Elzinga said. “When people do have a place they can afford that allows them to live within their means, they do better as a family, and we do better as a community.”

The state commerce department also plans to send an $894,631 check to Cornerstone Courtyard Apartments, a 50-unit affordable housing complex overseen by the Spokane Housing Authority. A representative from the housing authority did not immediately return a Spokesman-Review reporter’s request for comment.

In Spokane County, courts saw record-breaking eviction actions filed last year.

There were 1,663 eviction actions filed in 2023 – the highest number seen by the county in eight years and a nearly 50% increase from the number filed in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bulk of those evictions were due to rent hikes forcing tenants out of their homes and into the streets, onto the couches of friends, or into shelters, said Terri Anderson, the director of the Tenants Union of Washington State.

“I’m happy to hear the news every time the state decides to invest in affordable housing,” Anderson said. “But it needs to happen more.”