Boom Housing of God
posted by October 26 at 14:35 PMon
When Catholic Community Services announced plans to construct a four-story, mixed-use building on 23rd Ave S and S Main St, some Squire Park residents were ready to grab their pitchforks. As Washington’s largest private provider of human services, CCS counsels drug addicts and assists prisoners reentering public life, among other services. Neighbors were concerned that this development, a few blocks from a daycare and Garfield High School, might become the home of addicts, felons, and sex offenders.
It turns out, Village Spirit’s 51 units are “planned to be affordable housing for the homeless, poor, and low-wage earners,” says Evelyn Allen, director of the Village Spirit Center, one of many projects managed by CCS and the Archdiocesan Housing Authority (AHA). “Our focus will be on supporting African-American families, and addressing the disproportionate needs for African-American families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.” (However, Allen notes, nobody would be excluded based on his or her race. Or for not being Catholic.) “There will be no sex offenders in that building, and no felons with crimes against people or property,” she assures.
The 12-million dollar development, which will occupy the CCS administration building’s existing parking lot, is part of King County’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. Funding is granted by the Gates Foundation’s Sound Families Initiative along with public and private contributions. It will be the AHA’s 42nd housing development in Western Washington.
The centrally located, low-cost units are a refreshing break from expensive condos for Seattleites getting priced out of their homes. But usually, low-cost development comes at an esthetic price—a price that CCS has been willing to pay. Here’s the CCS administrative building:
“The staff here was like, ‘Can’t you do something about to this building, too?’” says Allen. No, she can’t. But she is determined to make the new building, slated for completion in 2009, more pleasing than some of the impersonal strip-mall developments and boxy mixed-use buildings to the south on 23rd. The retail will sit close to the sidewalk, facing the street. “I have a special affinity to make sure our building is more inviting,” she says.