GoWest Foundation, Spokane Credit Unions collaborate to establish Washington’s first land bank for low-income housing
SPOKANE,, WA (August 9, 2022) — In Spokane, Washington, the waiting list for low-income housing can be as long as three years. Collaboration between a group of the region’s credit unions, the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium, and GoWest Foundation will help to ease that crisis. They’re establishing Washington’s first-ever land bank, which will make property available for development of low-income housing.
The foundation, which works with credit unions in the six states served by GoWest Credit Union Association to accelerate community impact, has provided a $45,000 grant for the project.
“This initiative removes a significant barrier – upfront costs – for the development of low-income housing,” said Sharee Adkins, executive director, GoWest Foundation. “Through their collaboration and partnership with the consortium, Spokane credit unions are at the intersection of a critical need, and the solutions that will ultimately provide housing for people.”
Local credit unions, including STCU, brought the idea of the opportunity forward to the foundation and will partner closely with the consortium to secure additional funding.
“While there is no one solution to the challenges we face, the land bank is an important part of the puzzle,” said STCU President and CEO Ezra Eckhardt. “As a top local real estate lender in Spokane, we’re pleased to play a role in this important initiative.”
Advocacy Played a Role
A key swath of property likely to be developed for low-income housing as part of this project is the result of credit union-supported legislation that passed the Washington State Legislature in 2022.
Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, (D-Spokane), the bill allows the Washington State Department of Transportation to lease surplus property at minimal costs, for uses such as affordable housing.
More than 60 years ago, the construction of I-90, split the city’s East Central Neighborhood, uprooting homes, schools, and more. The land bank project could be an important step in giving back to the community.
Sen. Billig’s legislation, which passed with broad bipartisan support, is an example of advocacy working to help ease a local crisis.
Last month, the consortium completed the steps necessary to create the land bank and will next select board members and continue obtaining seed money for land acquisition.
“As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions are uniquely focused on building brighter financial futures for their members, and at the same time on making a tangible difference in the communities they serve,” Adkins said. “Getting behind the land bank project in Spokane is an example of the holistic approach credit unions take to being solutions providers.”
About GoWest Foundation
GoWest Foundation, powered by a network of credit unions serving Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, is uniquely positioned to harness and deliver resources that Improve the financial lives of people and communities