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Thrive and library collaborate on housing, services

Mark Finney speaks at launch event. Photo courtesy of Thrive


Thrive International in Spokane launched a housing partnership with the Spokane Public Library in Northeast Spokane to provide 48 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments for refugees and to respond to the local housing crisis.

On May 15, Thrive and the library announced plans to develop affordable housing and a shared library facility on 1.62 acres at 6980 N. Nevada St. in Northeast Spokane.

The library plans programs to engage the community and provide services for residents.

"The partnership is a unique way to welcome refugees while addressing our affordable housing crisis," said Lidia Pauline, director of housing at Thrive. "We seek to broaden our mission of empowering refugees to move from surviving to thriving while also contributing a community asset to enhance the lives of residents in Northeast Spokane."

Elected officials, project investors, community members and representatives of partner organizations attended an event.

"Innovative collaboration, like that between Thrive and the library, is what will help solve our affordable housing crisis," said Mayor Lisa Brown.

While other cities have collaborative public-private projects, this is unique because it houses refugees. The project is being developed by Millennium Northwest, with investment support by Courage Housing.

In Spokane, Thrive partners with World Relief, which resettles about 700 refugees, and the International Rescue Committee, which opened a new office in Spokane to resettle an additional 250 refugees, said Mark Finney, executive director of Thrive.

Ukrainians are nearly 90 percent of the residents at the Thrive Center on E. 4th Ave., along with Hispanic, Afghans, Arabic speakers and some from Haiti. Creole Resources started recently to work with Haitians.

Mark reported that five to 10 families move in and out each month as staff help them find jobs and apartments.

Thrive, which was founded in Spokane in 2022, serves several thousand refugees and immigrants annually with housing, education and empowerment programs.

In addition, the center offers women's and youth programs.

For two years, Pingala Dhital has worked primarily with Afghan refugee women to make jewelry to learn job skills.  Sajda Nelson meets with women for tea and offers driving classes.

Mark said the youth program soccer camp the end of June for 200 to 300 youth needs coaches. Youth activities include weekly youth sports with the YMCA and monthly outings to lakes, snowshoeing and hiking to learn about outdoor recreation opportunities.

There are also music, art and dance programs for youth.

"We seek to build community, because refugee and immigrant children and youth need friends who have experienced what they have experienced," Mark said.

He is excited that the partnership with the library for housing includes a community center with a 1,500-square-foot room.

Mark said Thrive is the largest provider of supportive housing for refugees and migrants in Washington, with 200 residents in Thrive Center Spokane and 350 at the DoubleTree Hotel SeaTac.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June 2024