Catholic Charities’ new housing project edges to completion in Pasco

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington’s new $16.79 million housing development in Pasco is nearing completion, with leasing expected to begin at the end of March.

The Bishop Skylstad Commons project, formerly called Pasco Haven, was renamed in honor of William Skylstad, former bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane and a longtime supporter of the services provided by Catholic Charities Eastern Washington in its 13-county service area.

He was named one of Catholic Charities USA’s two volunteers of the year in 2016.

“We’re extremely excited about this project coming to fruition,” said Kelly Keenan Sr., vice president of advancement and impact at Catholic Charities Eastern Washington.

Construction delays

Despite an announcement in January that the units at 301 S. 20th Ave. would begin filling in February, supply challenges caused delays, Keenan said.

“Most have been resolved at this point,” he said.

Architecture All Forms was the designer and Inland Group was the general contractor. Both are based in Spokane.

The building will provide 60 apartment units to support adults exiting homelessness or housing instability. Five full-time, on-site staff will help residents work toward their goals of greater self-sufficiency.

“For the folks who will be moving into those units, our staff will be on site by day one. The goal is to not just stabilize in housing but move toward thriving and overall improved health. This will look different for every resident,” Keenan said.

Services will include employment counseling, substance use disorder treatment, behavioral health, health and wellness classes, links with primary care providers and other medical services, education, food prep lessons and connecting to eligible benefits.

Keenan said staff plan to engage with local health care and higher education partners in Tri-Cities to further enhance the services available.

Catholic Charities designs its supportive housing projects based on the underlying concept that housing is a health care intervention. This combined with on-site staffing aim to function as a whole-person health care delivery system.

Residents will pay rent, up to 30% of their income.

“We know that when housing stability is the most emergent concern for people in their lives, it becomes difficult to navigate the systems in communities that would otherwise be simple for people who have stable housing,” Keenan said.

“We make sure that stable housing platform is there and enriched with as much service delivery as possible to allow people to think about what they want for their lives and what they want to accomplish and help them take steps to make it attainable,” he said.

Keenan reported that 90% of residents who move into Catholic Charities’ housing projects remain housed year after year and 50% are able to increase their income. They anticipate that 10% of residents per year will move on to independent housing.

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington is a religious nonprofit unassociated with the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, which works within its jurisdiction that extends to Franklin County.

The organization is supported by individual contributions, service fees and government funding. It offers 2,600 affordable housing units, 600 of which provide a supportive environment like what’s planned in Pasco.

It is Catholic Charities’ second project in the area, the first being apartments for farmworkers, also in Pasco.

Similar facilities to Bishop Skylstad Commons are St. Michael’s Haven in Walla Walla and Spokane’s Buder Haven.

Rise of homelessness

In the Tri-Cities, the rate of homelessness has been on the rise since 2016, even as it has been decreasing across the state during the same period, according to a Community Health Needs Assessment of Benton and Franklin Counties.

The Homeless Management Information System records about 4,000 people as homeless in the greater Tri-City area, which includes those living in vehicles and drifting between the homes of family and friends

By 2019, the average number of days a person spent homeless in Tri-Cities had more than doubled from 39 days to 82 days, according to the Community Health Needs Assessment.

Keenan explained the phenomenon: “We’re seeing a similar trend in Tri-Cities that we’re seeing in Spokane and even in more rural areas of Eastern Washington, which is very rapidly rising housing costs – mostly in terms of rising rent – combined with a very much inadequate supply of housing units available. The combination of those two factors is really exacerbating the homelessness problem in these communities.”

“If one-bedroom units creep above $1,500 and two-bedroom units creep above $2,000 per month, that can quickly become a challenge for folks with limited incomes,” he said.

Grand opening

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington hopes to begin leasing units during the last week of March.

A grand opening is planned for April 14, details to be announced.

Residents are being selected based on their level of need using the local Continuum of Care Coordinated Entry program, which allows people to be assessed and considered for housing at Bishop Skylstad Commons through most local homeless service providers.

Those interested in applying for housing at Bishop Skylstad Commons should call 509-455-3034 or email

Hiring underway

At press time, Catholic Charities Eastern Washington was looking to hire care coordinators and certified peer support for Skylstad Commons.

Care coordinators work closely with each resident to develop a stabilization plan and connect residents with various service providers.

Certified peer support seeks those who have experienced homelessness, housing instability or other circumstances related to recovery.

“Folks with that kind of knowledge and expertise in their lives are a significant support in helping people navigate community systems and work through the challenges they might continue to face,” Keenan said.

Those interested to learn more can go to:

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