Housing Crisis Centers on Spokane’s Browne’s Addition

SPOKANE, Wash. – Senator Maria Cantwell was in Spokane on Tuesday, raising support for the affordable housing tax credit, which she says would help address affordable housing.

Spokane has been struggling with affordable housing in recent years, with City Council President, Ben Stuckart, calling it a crisis at all levels.

Cantwell said there are only 29 affordable homes for every 100 low-income renters in Washington State.

In addition to other factors, Cantwell said her bill addresses three big concerns: veteran only housing, housing for formerly homeless youths and housing for women who have been victims of domestic violence.

Meantime, one Spokane neighborhood has been under the microscope, Browne’s Addition.

Currently, district leaders are fighting to be Spokane’s first historic district. It’s been a back and forth debate, because being labeled a historic district might prevent new housing projects from being built in the area, epecially affordable housing projects.

There’s some concern that making any neighborhood off limits is a step in the wrong direction, but Stuckart, who’s also in the running for Spokane mayor, told KHQ that if Browne’s is labeled historic district, it wouldn’t stop future construction but there would be certain design standards they will have to meet.

“Part of this will give incentives to people to upkeep their homes, and upkeep apartments, so it’ll make for better living conditions for everyone in Browne’s Addition,” Stuckart said.

Stuckart said the affordable housing Spokane needs shouldn’t be built on top of apartments that are already sitting in Browne’s, but on busier streets, like Monroe, because Browne’s is dense enough as it is.

Stuckart’s opponent, Nadine Woodward, also responded to KHQ with an email about her thoughts on Browne’s Addition.

“Spokane is facing a housing crisis,” Nadine said. “As a city and region, we need to be creative in how we increase our housing stock. I understand the desire to protect the character of our neighborhoods, especially those rich in history, like Browne’s Addition. That means we need to make the best use of our infill, and create density in other areas, like downtown. I also support a land quantity analysis with our regional neighbors, the Spokane valley and Spokane County, to identify property for new home construction. I just received the endorsement of the Spokane home builders association and look forward to working with our regional builders to increase the area’s housing options.”

Browne’s Addition is only three votes away from being declared a historic district, but advocates say documenting the 300 properties, mailing the ballots and signs has already cost the community nearly $20,000. Advocates say this is their last chance to fight for the historic title.

If you’re a property owner in Browne’s Addition, your vote has to be in to City Hall, dropped off on the 3rd floor, by 5pm Thursday. If not, your vote is counted as an automatic no.