DECEMBER 16, 2022 - COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF CATHOLIC CHARITIES CATAYLYST PROGRAM - LAWSUIT BROUGHT BY WEST HILLS NEIGHBORHOOD GROUP DISMISSED
See a video statement about The Catalyst Project from Catholic Charities CEO & President Rob McCann.
The Catalyst Overview
Catholic Charities Eastern Washington (CCEW) is launching a new program called the “Catalyst Project.” The Catalyst Project is an emergency supportive housing program that will create a new pathway out of homelessness for people in our community. Currently, over 600 individuals are sleeping in tents without access to indoor plumbing or permanent electricity and heat at the Thor-Freya encampment. The Catalyst Project can provide a strategic enhancement to our current regional shelter system by providing 87 rooms to both men and women experiencing homelessness. In addition, 14 of the 87 rooms will be set aside for double occupancy.
The Catalyst Project will open within 60 days of the funds received from the Washington State Commerce Rights of Way Initiative. Catholic Charities will purchase the Quality Inn Hotel at 4301 W. Sunset Blvd, Spokane, WA 99224. Referrals to enter the program will come from local community partners, and rooms will only be available through a referral process. The time that guests may stay in this housing is not limited, but it is not intended to be a permanent home. Instead, it offers essential amenities, such as safe, private, dignified spaces where people may temporarily live while taking steps to exit homelessness.
Catalyst Project Key Facts
Location: 4301 W. Sunset Blvd, Spokane, WA 99224 (currently the Quality Inn hotel)
Open to both men and women
87 rooms which include beds and bathrooms (14 will be for couples)
Fully staffed security team who will patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week, around a fenced and secured area
Robust Care Coordination services, including housing-focused opportunities, connections to behavioral health services, primary care, and public benefits
Contracted food services to provide three meals a day
Residents will abide by Catalyst’s Good Neighbor Agreement
Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Catalyst?
The Catalyst is an emergency supportive housing community located at 4301 W. Sunset Blvd. (currently the Quality Inn.). With a grant from Washington State Department of Commerce, Catholic Charities is rehabbing the units with the goal of housing up to 100 men and women who are currently homeless.
What is the project timeline?
We expect The Catalyst will be ready for occupancy within 60 days of receiving funding.
What needs does The Catalyst fill in the community?
The Catalyst is an important part of a broader community effort to provide safe, dignified housing and support to the 600 homeless men and women at Camp Hope near Second Avenue and Freya Street. At The Catalyst, residents will have access to robust care coordination services designed to help them take next steps toward permanent housing.
Who will be served at The Catalyst?
Our goal is to house people who are ready to make a change in their lives and move forward to meet their maximum potential. We are committing to housing 100 people from Camp Hope and may refer some of them to our emergency shelter, the House of Charity. This would mean that some existing beds in the House of Charity may be made available by moving people with lower levels of need and a higher likelihood of success to The Catalyst. This approach is a protection for the neighborhood, ensuring that individuals with the highest barriers to success will be placed in the environment where they are most likely to get the type of support they need.
How will residents be referred to the Catalyst?
Local agencies other than Catholic Charities will be providing outreach to residents of Camp Hope and will make referrals into the Catalyst project. Catholic Charities will screen those referrals and accept residents into the project. We will prioritize residents who are most likely to be successful in housing, ready to make a change in their lives to overcome challenges like substance use disorder that may be preventing them from meeting their full potential.
Is there any criteria being used to select those that will be accepted into The Catalyst?
Catholic Charities will be screening residents based on their likelihood of success in housing. We won’t turn someone away who has a challenging past or is struggling with substance use disorder, however, we will require that they commit to our program expectations including a good neighbor agreement, agreement that they will not use drugs/alcohol on our property and participate in services that help them to move forward and achieve their maximum potential.
Will you verify identification and conduct background checks?
We intend to run background checks for all potential residents. To take this step, we will need to verify the identity of potential residents. Although these procedures are still being developed, we will share them with the neighborhood for review. We anticipate the procedures to be finalized in late August.
What about any criminal history?
Although a criminal history will not immediately disqualify someone from participating in the program, it will be considered. If a resident’s history shows frequent or recent violent, criminal behaviors, they would not be a good fit for the Catalyst program.
How will residents know what is expected with regard to their behavior in the community?
We will share written expectations with our residents and our staff will go over it with them in detail. One of our expectations is that residents will not use drugs or alcohol in our property or in the surrounding neighborhood. This project is not subject to landlord tenant laws, and we will remove anybody from the program that cannot conform to these expectations. We also recognize that the path to success is not always a straight line. If a resident slips up, they will be placed on a behavior agreement. If that agreement is violated, they will be removed from the program with few exceptions.
These expectations will extend into the surrounding neighborhood so if a resident is involved in a crime, they will be removed from the program. This is an area where we welcome neighbor feedback. If there are specific behaviors that neighbors are concerned about, please let us know so that we can address it in our resident expectations.
Specifically, what support services will be provided?
This project will have significant levels of services available on-site for our residents. Catholic Charities is a licensed behavioral health provider, and we will provide access to our counselors and therapists for residents. We will also have clinically trained staff who are experienced in treating substance use disorder. Because this is a program and not traditional housing, we are able to require residents to participate in services as a condition of their continued housing. We also hire additional staff called peer supports whose job it is to make meaningful connections with residents and help them build healthy relationships. They do this in a variety of ways including hosting events and engaging in positive activities.
We provide employment services, access to healthcare services and other options for our residents. Our goal is for every person to live with dignity and achieve their potential. This is defined on an individual basis and if that includes employment, our staff are trained and equipped to help people get there.
How will food and necessary items be provided? On- or off-site? Will residents be given money for items they will need to purchase?
We will provide residents with meals on-site. We will also provide them with access to bus tickets so that they can run errands and attend appointments. We will not be providing residents with cash payments; however, we will make sure their basic needs are met. We do work with residents to grow their income through employment and other opportunities like SSDI if they are qualified.
There is much negative discussion about what has happened around Camp Hope and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as disruption around homeless properties located downtown. It would be helpful to have some positive data that speak to success.
There are significant challenges with homelessness downtown and throughout our community. Although homelessness downtown has been extensively covered in the media, the connection between conditions like feces on the streets and people sleeping in doorways and Catholic Charities housing communities is counterintuitive. Our housing and shelters remove people from the streets, provide them with a bathroom and clean, safe place to live. We work closely with neighbors when there are challenges with residents, and we hold our residents accountable for their behaviors. We have many success stories to share. Here are some statistics that help illustrate our impact:
Over 96% of our residents remain permanently housed after 12 months.
We are able to successfully house 61% of all shelter residents who engage with our housing services.
We measure our resident progress by tracking a decrease in their acuity/level of vulnerability. We take this measurement on a quarterly basis and see an 11.7% decrease in the level of vulnerability for residents of our downtown buildings within their first 12 months of residency.
Additionally, we see a 221% increase in our residents’ monthly income (this translates to about a $714 monthly increase). These increases in income are from employment and enrollment into programs that they qualify for.
Why was this site chosen for the project?
We selected a site that was not immediately surrounded by single family homes or other residential uses (there are 17 homes within 1,500 feet and 71 homes within 2,500 feet). We also selected this site because it was near public transportation, it had adequate space to allow for us to provide robust on-site services, allowed for the installation of a perimeter fence/other safety features and was available for purchase.
(As a new program, the policies & expectations are subject to change at any time.)
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