Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Charities purchases Holy Names Sisters’ convent site

the Inland Register

(From the March 17, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

In early 2016, Catholic Charities Spokane signed a purchase and sale agreement for approximately 35 acres of the Sisters of the Holy Names campus, with plans to turn the convent building into a program that specifically focuses on families who are about to lose their children to Child Protective Services (CPS) removals and to build up to 300 additional units of affordable housing on the site while still preserving and protecting the vast majority of the acreage of this beautiful wooded site by the river.

The Sisters plan to conserve the remaining 31 acres, which includes the entire river frontage. The Sisters selected Catholic Charities because of their common mission of serving the poor and vulnerable and their commitment to the stewardship and ecological spirituality of the property.

The initial plan is to serve 18 families on site in the convent and keep the chapel an active place for Mass as needed or desired by the Catholic community. The Catholic Charities proposal that was ultimately selected by the Sisters also included the option for the Sisters currently on the site to remain in the convent and art studio, as well as an offer to employ the site’s physical plant and maintenance staff.

The convent site has an additional 35 acres of land on which Catholic Charities will build 300 units of low-income family housing and 75 units of low-income senior housing over the next five years in hopes of creating a truly inter-generational site where the wisdom, volunteerism and involvement of seniors can have an impact on the lives of young parents and children.

Washington State Tax Credit project funding will cover the majority cost of all future housing developments on the site. Empire Health Foundation has been instrumental in supporting this concept for the past two years and financially backstopping the future operational side of the program.

Catholic Charities intends to launch the family-based program, “The Rising Strong Project,” by late 2016. This program will dramatically transform and positively enhance the lives of families and children that encounter our state’s current foster care system and don’t need to be removed from their homes if alternatives like this program are available.

By offering the courts and CPS a safe and effective alternative to “separation,” CPS officers and caseworkers will be able to focus more of their attention on the riskiest situations and on in-home services and support. The overall goal is to reduce the number of kids who experience the adverse childhood experience of being removed from their homes and families.

By adopting and implementing proven methods for supporting the individuals that comprise “family,” the outcome of this program will be a major reduction in the number of children that enter the State’s foster care system and allows these families to remain together by providing the support, training, life-skills classes and treatment that enable the parent(s) to be responsible and nurturing to their children.

Catholic Charities envisions a campus environment where families who are assessed as capable and willing, can receive the skills, intervention, and supervision necessary to overcome the issues that brought them into a court-ordered environment in the first place (neglect, abuse, or safety).

Rather than separating children from their families and treating the individual behaviors in isolation, the family remains and receives treatment together. Rising Strong will enable families to achieve their potential and put them on track to leading healthy and productive lives; all the while remaining together. The permanent housing to be built on site, along with the nearly 1000 units Catholic Charities housing already owns and manages, will offer future options for families graduating from the Rising Strong program to transition into permanent housing.

According to Catholic Charities Executive Director Rob McCann, “The acquisition of this incredible property is one of the most significant moments in the modern day history of Catholic Charities and our future abilities to serve the poor. More important is the fact that this site, rich in Catholic tradition, can remain a Catholic epicenter for the diocese and the faithful.”

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