West Hills neighbors express outrage with nearby Catholic Charities housing project

SPOKANE, Wash. — People living in the West Hills neighborhood of Spokane made it clear that they don’t want the new Catholic Charities housing project in their backyards.

The city hosted a town hall meeting with the organization to address questions and concerns about the Catalyst project near the Finch Arboretum. It would provide transitional housing for people living at Camp Hope.

“Shouldn’t you reconsider what’s going to happen in this situation and stop it?” said one of the conference attendees.

Catholic Charities plans to move people into the Quality Inn on Sunset Boulevard. Sharmaine Crosswhite lives just blocks away, and she’s certainly not fond of the city’s plan.

“I fear for the safety of my children. I fear for the safety of my property, and our assets that we’ve worked so hard to build. I fear for the overall neighborhood,” Crosswhite said.

She’s not the only one. The town hall was completely full, with many concerns. Safety, property value, and how the facility will be run were some of the questions asked to Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, and to members of the Catholic Charities.

“There’s not enough security to handle what we deal with at Palisades Park already, let alone there’s people camping down in the hills, and it’s already an issue,” said another conference attendee.

Mayor Nadine Woodward explained the Catalyst project was rushed because of the deadline set by the Department of Commerce.

“To get the county, and the City of Spokane Valley, and the City of Spokane together to identify housing for more than 600 people in 30 days in the middle of the housing crisis is very rushed. With very little, I would say no time for community engagement,” Woodward said.

The Department of Commerce would directly provide $6.5 million in funding for the transitional housing project.

“The Catalyst project will screen people individually who want to go towards stabilization. Drugs and alcohol will not be allowed in the Catalyst Project. People who are using drugs and alcohol will not be put in the Catalyst project,” said Rob McCann, CEO and President of Catholic Charities.

To get accepted to this project, residents will be screened and interviewed. If they violate the drugs or alcohol policy, Catholic Charities has the authority to remove them from the project. Additionally, the organization says they will add an additional 8 members to their Neighborhood Safety Team.

Regardless, the West Hills neighborhood made it clear that they don’t want this project anywhere near them.

“There is a lot of land out here, and there are other options. They just don’t care about our opinion. And that hurts,” Crosswhite said.

Funding for the project is expected to be approved by September 12. The catalyst is set to open 60 days after funding is received.

READ: West Hills Neighborhood Council meeting with Catholic Charities about Catalyst Project