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Gonzaga Family Haven
Gonzaga Family Haven in Spokane

January 12, 2022 A new housing community in Spokane, Washington, aims to be the forever home for 72 families who had been struggling with homelessness.

The Gonzaga Family Haven, a five-building, 72-unit affordable housing complex, which opened in the fall of 2021, is a partnership between Catholic Charities Eastern Washington, Gonzaga University (GU), Gonzaga Preparatory School and St. Aloysius Parish.

It offers low-income families housing, as well as support services, allowing families to stabilize their lives through on-site case management and access to childcare, health care and ongoing adult education. It also connects residents to services that include recreational activities, mentoring, food services, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Peggy Haun-McEwen, Gonzaga Family Haven’s director of community, who previously served as dean of students at Gonzaga Prep, explained why the wraparound support services are so important: “We started to try to look at what we need to do to make this successful and make this a forever home for these families and not just a pit stop.”

The Gonzaga Family Haven is a neighbor to Gonzaga Prep and Gonzaga University, and students at both schools are involved at the Haven. GU students helped the first 15 families move in and are helping with housing activities, community meals and educational support for parents and children. Gonzaga Prep students are serving as tutors and peers.

Gonzaga Family Haven
Gonzaga Prep and University students helped move donations into the Gonzaga Family Haven.

There will also be a pathway for children living at the Haven to eventually receive scholarships to the two schools, said Sarah Yerden, the director of marketing for Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington.

St. Al’s Parish is also involved with the Haven, which has included coordinating a furniture drive to furnish the apartments for the families.

“Our goal here is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty,” Yerden said, “which takes root in adverse child experiences like lack of stable housing, food insecurity and undertreated behavioral health conditions. Gonzaga Family Haven is going to address all of these obstacles, solving them for families living on-site so children can grow up in safety and stability.”

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[Sources: Gonzaga University, Spokane Public Radio]