Before Fixer-Upper Shows Were Popular

By Steve Witter

Move over Property Brothers. Spokane has its own fixer-upper program that actually pre-dates the brothers’ television fame. 

The difference is that the Spokane version is a training program rather than a television program. For more than a quarter century, NEWESD 101 has trained students for careers in home renovation and construction. Through the years, more than 50 housing units have been rehabilitated or constructed for low-income families.

All projects to date have been undertaken with partners, including the City of Spokane who owned the homes, but contracted with NEWESD 101 for construction services. That is about to change. Earlier this year, for the first time, NEWESD 101 purchased a home that will serve as an on-the-job training site for the next two years.

NEWESD 101 acquired the home from the City of Spokane for $6,000. While performing a top-to-bottom renovation, students will learn all aspects of home construction including framing, drywalling, window and door installation, insulation, siding, trim and painting, carpet/flooring and landscaping.

When complete, two major objectives will have been met. First, more than 60 students will have acquired skills qualifying them for construction jobs paying up to $52,000 per year. Second, a handsome new home will be added to Spokane’s inventory of affordable housing for low-income families. 

Sales proceeds will allow for the purchase of another home, extending the program to another eager cohort. Or, in the parlance of TV, the program will be renewed for another season. With the Spokane program now in its 26th season, the Property Brothers have some catching up to do.