Catholic Charities is beginning construction on two new apartment complexes for 100 chronically homeless residents in Spokane.
The city issued building permits following homeless advocates’ demands for more shelter space.
A homeless encampment was formed in front of City Hall in November in response to the city’s suspension of the sit-lie ordinance, which prohibits people from sitting or sleeping on city streets.
Construction began last week for Catholic Charities' Father Bach Haven Four, a four-story, 51-unit building that will be located on State Street in the east end of downtown next to Catholic Charities’ existing Donna Hanson Haven apartment complex.
Fifty units will house homeless residents. One will serve as a unit for an on-site property manager. The property will also provide residents with access to supportive services through the Catholic Charities Social Services program.
Jonathan Mallahan, vice president of housing with Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, said Father Bach Haven Four is expected to open in December 2019.
A second Catholic Charities property called Father Bach Haven Five will also support fifty homeless residents. Construction for the site located at Division Street and Sprague Avenue in downtown Spokane is expected to begin in early 2019 and should be completed within a year, Mallahan said.
Catholic Charities has nearly 1,300 total housing units for homeless residents throughout Eastern Washington and more than 300 units across five buildings in Spokane. Mallahan said there are no barriers for living in Catholic Charities' properties but residents must be held accountable for their role in fostering a safe community.
Each property's overall development budget sits just above $10 million, with nearly $4.5 million of that budget going toward construction, Mallahan said. The remaining money will fund services at the apartment complexes.
The Washington State Housing Finance Commission and Trust Fund provided $9.8 million in funds for each building, according to Mallahan.
Mallahan said choosing the locations of both properties was a strategic decision to reduce operating costs and provide better support services for residents.
“We are able to provide better supportive services with the proximity of these buildings to Frontier Behavioral Health and medical services,” he added.
Catholic Charities will focus on building housing outside of the downtown area in the future, according to Mallahan.
“We don’t want to concentrate poverty, so we are focusing on properties in other areas in the future,” he said.
According to the City of Spokane's latest point-in-time count, about 310 of about 1,244 homeless residents were unsheltered and 934 were sheltered. Mallahan said Catholic Charities will continue to build housing for vulnerable homeless residents if there is a need.
“Every time we open up one of these buildings, chronic homelessness goes down,” Mallahan added.
In early November, Catholic Charities dedicated 75 new units of permanent affordable housing for chronically homeless individuals and families. The Sisters Haven apartment complex is located in West Spokane on the forested grounds of the former Holy Names convent.
Sisters Haven has 23 three-bedroom, 36 two-bedroom and 16 one-bedroom units. Every unit includes beds for each resident, a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher. Residents can request other items through the Catholic Charities Furniture Bank. An on-site case manager also coordinates supportive services, including childcare, counseling and social activities.