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Jubilee Community models ‘reneighboring’ in Spokane

Jubilee Community and Housing Ministries in West Central Spokane seeks to model “reneighboring” in Spokane.

Pat Malone
Pat Malone, right, serves picnic dinner.

Since the recent visit of Atlanta reneighboring advocate Bob Lupton, several clergy and business leaders have been meeting and praying about next steps for the West Central neighborhood, where $150,000 has been committed to buy and restore housing.

“This is a small but significant step in the spiritual and physical redemption and transformation of West Central,” said Connie and Pat Copeland-Malone, founders of the West Bridge Shared Housing Cooperative and Jubilee Community with Richard and Myrna Copeland, Josh Roe, Spokane Valley Glass, S & S Construction and Youth for Christ.

The strategy of “reneighboring” comes from the biblical vision of shalom for the city—or in this case the West Central neighborhood.

The West Bridge Shared Housing Cooperative is one of several local reneighboring efforts along with First Presbyterian neighborhood leadership development, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s outreach through Richard Allen Enterprises and an emerging partnership between West Central and Whitworth College, Pat said.

The idea for West Central Shared Housing Cooperative emerged from a desire to provide safe, decent affordable housing and to form community with people willing to make a commitment to share housing, meals, prayer and worship.

Through Christ Clinic and Christ Kitchen, the co-op has drawn women leaving abusive homes or in recovery.  It also includes international high school exchange students.

Now 18 people live in six houses, and another three people will join soon.
“The greatest problem in West Central Spokane is transiency from a lack of home ownership and a high percentage of renters.

“The key to stabilizing institutions and relationships is to build community through better rental units and more home ownership,” Pat said.  “Housing there is expensive.  Landlords accept people with no or low credit ratings, tolerating illegal activities.”

The Spokane Neighborhood Economic Development Alliance is pursuing job development for the neighborhood when affordable, safe, decent housing is in place.

Some area churches are engaging in community development related to housing, jobs and community outreach ministries such as Our Place.  The idea is to move from social services that create dependency to personal and social transformation through collaboration of the government and religion, he said.

According to the West Central Shared Housing Cooperative’s vision statement:  “We have been called to reunite and reweave the spiritual and social fabric of West Central one block at a time by reintroducing middle and higher income individuals and families to the neighborhood.” 

The vision comes from Jeremiah and the understanding that “people of faith are often called to labor in exile, in unfamiliar places with previously unknown people out of obedience to God’s call and the need to create sustainable community.”

Participants join in a life of simplicity and communal living, committed to ministry, to engaging in the lives of those with whom they live in mutual interdependence.

• In May 1994, the Copeland-Malone family purchased Jubilee House in partnership with Westminster House, a 1909, four-bedroom, three-bath house at 1848 W.  Bridge.
Two rooms in Jubilee were for shared housing, for transitional housing for homeless women or former gang members, or for exchange students.  Community life includes common rooms, monthly gatherings, shared meals, movie nights, planned outings, spontaneous events and a common yard.

• In September 1994, a two-bedroom, one-bath detached unit, Casa Esperanza, was added on the same property in an 1880s garage.  It currently houses the four-member Copeland-Malone family—Pat, Connie, Ryan and Sean, who attend Salem Lutheran Church.

• In 1996, Loaves and Fishes, a micro-enterprise mail-order bookstore specializing in urban and social ministry books and resources began.

• In December 2001, Shalom House at 1844 W. Bridge was purchased and remodeled by the Copelands, Spokane Valley Glass and S & S Construction.  It houses two divorced men.

• In December 2002 the Copelands purchased a three-bedroom house, built in 1890 at 1830 W. Bridge. They remodeled it and named it Koinonia House.

• In April 2003, Josh Roe, area director of Youth for Christ, purchased a house at 1904 W. College.

• In May 2003, Ryan and Sean Malone purchased Metanoia House at 1828 W. Bridge in partnership with Youth for Christ.

Each house has private space and common space.

Respect for self, other house members and neighbors includes no smoking or drugs, care and maintenance of common areas, limiting visitors, respecting different sleeping and work schedules.  Each resident sacrifices slightly to gain more through relationship.

Several other projects are planned.
Whitworth College will house up to 30 students in the West Central neighborhood beginning September 2005.  This venture, called Nehemiah Homes of Hope, seeks investors and prayer support.

It envisions urban development through relocation of middle-income Christians, connecting community- and congregational-based ministries and redistributing resources among individuals and institutions.

The goal is to raise $1 million by 2020 for investment in West Central housing to attract new assets to the neighborhood.

The project is being developed with Washington State University, the Community Colleges of Spokane, Whitworth College and Eastern Washington University.

Believing in the need to re-educate people to reneighboring, the Jubilee Community has started the City of Shalom Book and Bible Club on fourth Mondays at the Lutheran Book Parlor, 1414 W. Broadway, to study books on the topic.

Jubilee Community and Housing Ministries seeks to “revitalize, redeem and transform one of Spokane’s oldest, most historic and lowest income neighborhoods by rebuilding the social and spiritual fabric of the neighborhood through intentional Christian community, acts of compassion, works of mercy and justice, and the gift of hospitality,” Pat said.

For information, call 328-4540.

By Mary Stamp, Fig Tree editor - Copyright © September 2004