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Bertha’s Place, central Vancouver homeless shelter, gets $5.1 million grant

State Commerce Dept. award benefits former hotel near Vancouver Mall

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
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On Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced a $5.1 million grant given to the Vancouver Housing Authority to cover the cost of purchasing Bertha's Place, a former hotel near Vancouver Mall that will become a homeless shelter.
On Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced a $5.1 million grant given to the Vancouver Housing Authority to cover the cost of purchasing Bertha's Place, a former hotel near Vancouver Mall that will become a homeless shelter. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

On Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced a $5.1 million grant to the Vancouver Housing Authority to cover the cost of purchasing Bertha’s Place, a hotel that will become a homeless shelter.

The former Howard Johnson by Wyndham will provide 62 shelter units to Vancouver’s homeless population. Bertha’s Place is at 9201 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive in the Van Mall neighborhood. It’s due to open in early November, but permitting may delay that, according to VHA spokesperson Patty Hastings.

“The Commerce grant will nearly cover the entire cost of purchasing the hotel, which was $5.5 million,” wrote Hastings in an email. “This means some funds we received from the city of Vancouver can help cover rehab costs (making the parking lot ADA-accessible, upgrading security systems, turning the indoor pool into a community room, create a secure entry vestibule, etc.). Funds from the county can help with this project and other future homeless shelter projects.”

The VHA announced in January that it was purchasing the hotel, which is located near public services, job opportunities and the Vancouver Mall Transit Center.

The state’s grant for the VHA was part of a larger $39.1 million given to five projects statewide — totaling 307 housing units. The state also gave $8.9 million for 84 shelter units at the Federal Way Red Lion Inn and about $25.04 million for three other housing projects in King County.

It’s the first phase of grants from the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program, part of the state’s Housing Trust Fund at Commerce. The capital budget penciled out about $93.8 million for the purchase or rental of property that can be quickly changed to “enhanced emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, youth housing, permanent housing, drop-in centers or shelters,” according to a news release.

“This funding will rapidly add units we need to keep more people housed as the economic impact of the pandemic continues to stress local resources,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown.

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