July 13, 2020

Home & Hope Expands Statewide

Thanks to grant funding from the State of Washington, Enterprise Community Partners is expanding our Home & Hope initiative statewide. Home & Hope facilitates the development of affordable housing and early childhood education centers on public and other tax-exempt sites. By assisting with predevelopment and feasibility studies, Home & Hope accelerates the development of these much-needed resources while also identifying and mitigating financial risks for sponsors and funders with good due diligence.

One such development opportunity is in Longview, sponsored by Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington (HOSWWA), on land to be donated by the Longview Presbyterian Church. With thoughts of a future expansion, the church purchased a 2-acre parcel next door to their property in the 1970s. While the land sat vacant, over several years the congregation discerned that the land could serve their mission by providing affordable housing. “Longview Presbyterian recognized that stable housing was a necessary first step in helping people move out of poverty, addiction, mental health crises, and homelessness,” said Pastor Dexter Kearny, however, “while the church had the land and a big heart, they were short on the expertise of being landlords and case workers and did not have the access to the funding needed to create and sustain such a project.” Enter Housing Opportunities of Southwest Washington, which serves as the Housing Authority in Cowlitz, Pacific, Wahkiakum and Lewis counties with the exception of Kelso and Kalama, a 5000 square mile territory. HOSWWA serves as the staff and executive director of the Joint Pacific County Housing Authority as well.

In early 2019, HOSWWA was approached by a committee of the Longview Presbyterian Church that included the recently retired Chair of the HOSWWA Board of Commissioners, Wayne Ostermiller, with an idea to partner on an affordable housing development on the land adjacent to the church. “We were intrigued by the chance to partner with an organization that shared our vision that affordable housing is the foundation to stability,” noted Jennifer Westerman, HOSWWA’s CEO. With the assistance of Community Frameworks as development consultant, Longview Presbyterian and HOSWWA are working to create 48 new homes on the site, about half of which will be set aside for people exiting homelessness.

The envisioned project mixes 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units in 6-8 buildings surrounding a small courtyard and children’s play area, with each building consisting of 6-8 units on two stories. Parking will ring the complex rather than taking up space between buildings to provide tenants as much unbroken public space as possible. A community building could provide an area for services, tutoring, community meetings, resident gatherings, or possibly an early childhood education center.

Financial support from the Community Foundation of SW Washington along with HOME funds from the City of Longview have helped jumpstart the project. Enterprise PNW is supporting the required site analysis with survey, wetlands, geotechnical and environmental consultants, ensuring the site is buildable. “Beyond moving the development process forward more quickly than we initially expected,” Westerman says, “Enterprise’s assistance helps close a gap in the development budget and makes the project more competitive for funding applications.”

With the State of Washington’s support, Enterprise is also currently engaged with sponsors in Bellingham, Raymond, Tacoma, Vancouver, Walla Walla, and Yakima, with more outreach in progress. If you have a potential development that fits Home & Hope’s goals and needs predevelopment feasibility assistance, please contact Jess Blanch for more information.

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