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Spokane City Council votes to spend $14 million in relief funds on housing, covid recovery

Rebecca White/SPR

The Spokane City Council approved nearly $14 million in covid relief spending Monday night, with a large share of the funds going toward housing.

About $6 million of the funds will go toward affordable housing construction. City leaders say the funds will fill funding gaps for several projects already in the pipeline.

Deb Elzinga, CEO of affordable housing provider Community Frameworks, called in to support the proposal, saying every affordable unit is desperately needed.

"I think the high demand for affordable housing underscores the need for funding the list of proposed projects,” she said. “For example, at Community Frameworks we are currently leasing our latest development, Sinto Commons here in Spokane, and I want to tell you in just a matter of one week, we had over 150 applications for just 46 apartments."

Other projects funded included house down payment assistance for low-income first-time homebuyers, eviction legal assistance, and density planning funds. The city council also approved funding for park improvements in low-income neighborhoods, the arts, and childcare.

City Councilman Michael Cathcart, who represents Northeast Spokane, says he hopes the next round of American Rescue Plan funding will be used for home ownership and resiliency, such as weatherizing homes against heat events.

“I do have a number of other things that I think are really important that we need to prioritize for ARP dollars that I’ve submitted, and that some others have submitted,” Cathcart said, “I really look forward to the discussion and the ability to consider those in the next round.”

Spokane was awarded $80 million in total from the American Rescue Plan.

This story was corrected on January 5 to reflect that the city of Spokane has $80 million, not $80 available through the American Rescue Plan.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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