SPOKANE, WASH. — Count Market Street Station among the developments that emerged amid the economic turmoil of the past two years.

Located in the city's old railroad district, the project could have easily been derailed. However, a nearly $500,000 loan from the state's unique Rapid Response Program kept the $4.5 million deal alive when other funding sources dried up.

As a result, the 33-unit development was set to open in November to residents earning no more than 50 percent and 30 percent of the area median income. Seven units serve formerly homeless individuals or people with disabilities.

The state Legislature created Rapid Response two years ago to help nonprofi ts react quickly to changing market conditions and buy properties to preserve or develop affordable housing and community facilities.

In the case of Market Street Station, the funding helped to repay the project's bridge loan and kept the deal moving, says developer Darryl Reber, executive director of the 20-year-old Inland Empire Residential Resources (IERR).

Meeting the needs of displaced very low-income residents

The development replaces a long-vacant bank building in the city's Hillyard neighborhood. IERR bought the property in December 2006 and then got caught in the low-income housing tax credit market meltdown. The development team originally planned to finance the project with tax credits and tax-exempt bonds but then had to search for alternative funding sources, says Reber, who has been with the group for 17 years.

The development is significant for Spokane, which has lost about 200 affordable housing units in the last two years as older buildings have been redeveloped and converted to marketrate apartments or condos.

The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) was tasked by the Legislature to respond to the displacement of many very lowincome and special-needs occupants from single-room occupancy housing that was sold for redevelopment in downtown Spokane, says Kim Herman, WSHFC executive director.

“We partnered with IERR to rapidly move the Market Street Station project to completion to help meet these needs,” he says, adding that the Housing Division of the Department of Commerce was also a partner.

In addition to the Rapid Response loan, Market Street Station received two pots of federal HOME funds—$3.2 million from the state Housing Trust Fund and about $250,000 from the city of Spokane.

The development also received $296,670 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle's Affordable Housing Program through member Washington Trust Bank.

Spokane County also provided $135,000 in funds generated by the 2060 program, which raises funds for housing activities through document recording fees.

IERR saved the old bank vault and the basement floor area. From there, the group expanded the building footprint and added four floors of living space.