Community Informs Planning for Gonzaga Family Haven

Gonzaga Family Haven press conference.
Partners of Gonzaga Family Haven at kickoff event.

April 15, 2020
Gonzaga News Service

Imagine having the opportunity to help plan a new community, to think carefully about the spaces and activities that will be important for the 72 families who will call it ‘home’ and live in community there.

That’s exactly the challenge a group of residents who may be among the first to live in Gonzaga Family Haven, a 72-unit permanent supportive housing community operated by Catholic Charities Eastern Washington in partnership with Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Preparatory School, embraced recently as they met with Molly Ayers, director, and Bailley Wootton, associate director of Gonzaga University’s Center for Community Engagement.

Ayers and Wootton were facilitating input for the architects and planners of the new housing development at North Foothills Drive and Hamilton Street. They will be among several partners providing extended learning and after-school enrichment programs for youngsters, and the activities and services that families may use when Gonzaga Family Haven is operational.

The future residents will be graduates of Catholic Charities Rising Strong program which provides intensive support to parents at risk of losing their children, along with referrals from other organizations.

Sense of community was important to participants. ‘Must-haves’ included safe areas for children to play indoors and out, along with places for community gatherings and shared community events.

Security lighting, cameras and secured entrances were also highly valued.

When asked to ‘dream big’ folks suggested a rec room with table tennis, extra storage space, on-site well child checks, and monthly birthday parties. Community dinners and celebrations also were high on the list, along with such practical services as legal aid, on-site child care, respite care, and educational programs for both youth and adults. Potential residents thought soothing colors, an electric fireplace, and open shared community space would make the facility feel warm and inviting.

“The folks we met with were thoughtful and excited about the possibility of having their own places,” said Ayers. “They were intentional about attending to their children’s needs and basic services first.”

Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington expects to be able to break ground on the residential facility later this year, and to complete construction in 2021.