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Dec. 7, 2022

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Vancouver Housing Authority to develop affordable housing in Washougal

Complex could have up to 80 units, depending on funding

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The Vancouver Housing Authority will soon help Washougal grow its inventory of affordable housing.

The VHA has purchased two parcels of land in downtown Washougal and plans to construct workforce-housing complexes — typically defined as housing that is affordable for people earning 60 to 120 percent of an area’s median income — over the next several years.

“We’re really excited to develop this property,” VHA Development Director Victor Caesar said during a Washougal City Council meeting on Aug. 8.

Caesar said the VHA hopes to kick off the project in 2024 or 2025.

The VHA, the largest provider of subsidized housing and rental assistance in Clark County, is governed by a six-member board of commissioners appointed by the mayor of Vancouver. The agency works with government entities and other partners to provide affordable housing and has helped create more than 1,600 unsubsidized apartments in Clark County for people earning less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

The median household income in Clark County is $106,500. Half of all families renting a home or apartment in Clark County are “rent burdened,” or paying more than one-third their salary on housing costs.

Caesar said the VHA will tap into several funding sources to pay for the development, including low-income housing tax credits, Washington State Department of Commerce housing trust funds, and local resources from Clark County like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME program, Community Development Block Grants and local sales tax dollars.

Caesar told the council members that the complex could include up to 80 units if the VHA takes advantage of affordable-housing incentives.

Councilwoman Michelle Wagner told Caesar she was “amazed” by how “good looking” the VHA properties were.

“It makes me excited that we might get something (similar),” Wagner said, adding that the property slated for the VHA housing complex is “an entryway into our city.”

The VHA developed the Camas Ridge apartments in Camas’ Prune Hill neighborhood, which offer 51 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, half of which are available to those earning 80 percent or less of median income.

Washougal Mayor Rochelle Ramos said she used to live by the Camas Ridge apartments and thought the complex was “beautiful.”

The mayor said she felt the property — located in the 1500 block of A Street, which welcomes people into the city from Washougal River Road — was “one of the eyesores in town” and she is “thrilled” that the VHA selected the site for its future housing complex.

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