Catholic Charities to seek new location for homeless project

Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington will spend the coming year looking for a new location for a project to serve homeless Tri-Citians.

Jonathan Mallahan, vice president for housing for the Spokane-based nonprofit, said it was disappointed when the Pasco City Council voted 4-3 not to sell city-owned land on Heritage Boulevard near East Lewis Street even after the organization made a full price offer.

Mallahan said Catholic Charities believes the decision was discriminatory because it was motivated by concerns about the people who would be served by the 52-unit, $13.2 million apartment building with on-site services.

He said Catholic Charities appreciates its relationship with the city and won’t sue. Instead, it is attempting to preserve a $2 million grant awarded by the Housing Finance Commission while looking for a new location.

The council voted Jan. 21 against selling the city-owned property to Catholic Charities in January after neighbors raised concerns about crime and drugs.

The city’s hearing examiner had previously ruled that Catholic Charities had sufficiently mitigated the potential impacts on the neighborhood. But neighbors objected, submitting a petition as well as testimony against siting social services in east Pasco. 

The organization had intended to apply for federal tax credits to complete the funding package this winter. Those plans are on hold while it sorts out a potential location.

The Pasco apartments would be modeled on Catholic Charities’ “Father Bach” series of residences in Spokane and Walla Walla. It marries apartments with support services to treat the underlying causes of homelessness, such as drug addiction, mental illness and other issues.

It intended to call the Tri-City version “Pasco Haven.”

Catholic Charities had offered $127,000 for the vacant site. 

Mayor Pro Tem Blanche Barajas and Council members Craig Maloney and Zahra Roach voted to sell the property in support of the project.

Mayor Saul Martinez and Councilmen Dan Milne, Ruben Alvarado and Pete Serrano opposed the land sale.

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