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News / Clark County News

Open House Ministries plans to build apartments in downtown Vancouver

They would be for families transitioning out of shelter

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith
Published: March 26, 2020, 6:02am

Open House Ministries plans to build a 30-unit apartment building at West 12th and Jefferson streets in downtown Vancouver for people transitioning out of its family shelter.

The faith-based homeless service provider previously took over the southeast corner of a block adjacent to its main property and demolished two homes.

The nonprofit aims to raise $11 million to $12 million for the project, which will include ground-floor retail and a storage basement, said board president Dick James. Before construction starts, Open House plans to use the empty lot for parking.

“The key right now for us is to get through the permitting process with the city,” James said.

The concept would allow families who graduate from Open House’s program and are employed to move into one of the apartments. Rent would be determined based on the family’s income. The building would contain a mix of studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, and it would have 38 parking stalls, according to documents submitted to the city.

The apartments would provide a big step toward independence. The families would work and pay rent but still consult with an Open House case manager and possibly take additional courses, James said. Eventually, families would move out of the apartment and into the community.

Although construction is anticipated to start in spring of 2021, the current coronavirus pandemic could cause delays. Open House had a meeting with the city scheduled for April 2 that was canceled. Still, the nonprofit hopes to receive some analysis from the city about its pre-application for the project. Conversations between the city and Open House have been positive, James said.

Open House looks to complete the project before the city begins its planned realignment of West Jefferson Street and Kauffman Avenue, an $11 million project that intends to create a key freight corridor. Currently, trucks have trouble navigating the offset intersection. Open House’s annex building, which contains a thrift store and bicycle repair shop that generate revenue and provide job training for shelter residents, will be razed to make the road improvements. Those businesses would move to the ground floor of the new building and ideally open before the current building is torn down, James said.

“Timing is clearly critical,” he said. “We are very interested observers to the city’s plans for Jefferson and Kauffman.”

Ryan Lopossa, streets and transportation manager for the city of Vancouver, said the city is about halfway through the design phase of the project, but it has not secured construction funding.

“Progress will slow for a little bit until we come out of the condition we’re in right now,” Lopossa said.

There isn’t a definitive date or year when construction will start. The city plans to accommodate Open House’s new development and minimize impacts on its existing properties.

Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith