HEART - Housing Equity Action Research Team

HEART is a campaign team of the Spokane Alliance focused on expanding affordable housing in the West Central neighborhood. This effort grew from community organizing work at the West Central Abbey. Guests and volunteers at the Abbey's Wednesday night free Dinner Table identified lack of stable, affordable, and dignified housing as their top concern. Members of the West Central Development Project, the West Central Abbey, and the Salem Lutheran Church have come together to work on this issue.

 

During the winter of 2018 and spring of 2019, a team of volunteers walked the neighborhood to identify vacant lots and buildings that could be turned into desperately needed affordable housing. In West Central, we found 33 homes that are either boarded up or have been unoccupied long-term. We are currently working with affordable housing providers to research and identify strategies to capitalize on their local opportunities.

 

33 vacant lots or buildings in the West Central neighborhood

 

City Council President Breean Beggs speaks to the crowd at the Candidates Forum.

263 members of the Spokane Alliance gathered on October 10th, 2019 to present our work and recommendations to address the crisis in homelessness and housing to the candidates running in Spokane City races.

 

In October 2019, the Spokane Alliance held a candidates forum and invited those running for Spokane City Council and Mayor to the gym at the Salem Lutheran Church. The previous winter, Salem had hosted one of the city’s emergency warming shelters in the same gym. Each candidate was asked to pledge their support to working with the Spokane Alliance to increase affordable housing in the neighborhood. Specifically, to support the use of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) money for affordable housing. In response to our action, the City Council put changing the state TIF law to allow it to be used for affordable housing as one of their top priorities for the state legislative session.

 

The West Quadrant TIF (WQTIF) is a local financing mechanism to support community developments in West Central, parts of Riverside and Emmerson Garfield. By 2032, as much as $6M will be reinvested directly into these neighborhoods.

 

In the winter of 2019-2020, HEART worked with our District 3 state legislators to change the law in order to include affordable housing in the TIF. Due to our efforts, the law was changed and sets a new precedent for TIFs across the state. 

 

Our current focus is how the WQTIF funds are spent. We are organizing with residents to ensure that affordable housing meeting the needs of the neighborhood are prioritized by these funds.

 

Check out more information on the WQTIF and TIF in general.

 

HEART also advocated for tenant protection during COVID-19 including the extension of eviction moratorium and rental assistance funding at the city or county level to allow people to stay in their homes.

 

Visit our calendar to find the next HEART meeting time.


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