Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
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St. Michael’s Haven in Walla Walla officially opens its doors; housing for homeless veterans and their families
the Inland Register
(From the June 16, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was part of the grand opening celebration of St. Michael’s Haven, a Catholic Charities housing project specifically designated for homeless veterans and their families. (IR photo courtesy of the Walla Walla Veterans Administration)
On Tuesday, May 31, the day after Memorial Day, Catholic Charities’ newest housing project officially opened.
The timing was most appropriate, as St. Michael the Archangel Haven in Walla Walla is specifically designated for homeless veterans and their families.
It was a glorious sunny afternoon and the ribbon cutting was attended by a long list of distinguished guests and partners in the project.
The 40-unit project included renovation of buildings originally built in the late 1850s that were previous officers’ quarters and new construction. One-, two-, and three-bedroom units are available to qualifying individuals and families. Rent is based on income and use of housing vouchers.
Tim Meliah, Director of Catholic Charities Walla Walla, emceed and hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony, along with his Catholic Charities Walla Walla team and many members of Catholic Housing Communities.
Guest speakers included Rob McCann (Executive Director of Catholic Charities Spokane), Brian Westfield (Director of the Walla Walla Veterans Administration), James Payne (Executive Director of the Fort Walla Walla Museum), Steve Moss (Washington State Housing Finance Commission Board Member), Paul McPherson (Director of Investment and Enterprise Development Service), Allen Pomraning (Mayor of Walla Walla), and representatives from the offices of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.
“This is a very special project in so many ways,” said Meliah. “It is always a privilege to offer housing to the homeless. But there is something special knowing St. Michael’s is specifically designed for veterans who bravely served our country. The historic nature of the property itself and restoration of buildings originally designated for military personnel provides a full-circle moment while the collaborative effort of so many agencies proves the power of a collective.”
The Walla Walla Veterans Administration played a critical role in the project. The site was leased under the Department of Veterans Affairs Enhanced-Use Lease Program (EUL). Through the EUL, underutilized VA-owned real estate can be leased for supportive housing purposes.
With Catholic Charities’ reputable track record in housing, the opportunity to combine forces on the project made perfect sense. Funds for construction came via tax credits.
There are complexities to repurposing and developing EUL housing. In Walla Walla, for example, careful attention was paid to honoring the historic aspects of the buildings retrofitted with appropriate modern amenities, and the new construction had to be designed to blend seamlessly.
As part of the original grounds of Fort Walla Walla, St. Michael’s Haven is now a part of the rich history of the area.
Catholic Charities extends its gratitude to all the guests in attendance and the many supporters of this project.
A photo gallery of the event is posted on the Facebook page of Catholic Charities Spokane. For questions about St. Michael’s Haven, contact Tim Meliah: by phone at (509) 525.0572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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