Thursday, June 30, 2022
June 30, 2022

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Vancouver Housing Authority’s Lincoln Place 2 to move forward

Clark County Council OKs $2M in mental health tax funds for project

By , Columbian staff writer

The Vancouver Housing Authority is poised to move forward with building Lincoln Place 2, a 30-unit supportive housing project in Vancouver. The project will be adjacent to, and modeled after, the VHA’s existing Lincoln Place at 1351 Lincoln Ave.

The Clark County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved $2 million in mental health sales tax funding for the project.

Andy Silver, chief operating officer of the housing authority, said Lincoln Place 2 will provide housing to people coming out of chronic homelessness and who have complex physical and behavioral health conditions.

“When you think of the diversity of people who experience homelessness … we’re talking about people all the way to one end of that spectrum who have the highest amount of needs,” Silver told the council.

Individuals eligible for housing at Lincoln Place 2 will be those at the greatest risk.

“The population served at Lincoln Place would be, if you think of everybody experiencing homelessness in the community, the 30 households with the most acute, disabling conditions: so schizophrenia, bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes, etc.”

Silver noted that entry into Lincoln Place is coordinated through the Council for Homeless, which uses a “vulnerability assessment tool” designed to predict who would be most likely to die on the streets without intervention.

Lincoln Place opened in early 2016 at a cost of around $6 million. It is owned and managed by the housing authority. Share provides 24/7 support services and case management while CDM Caregiving Services offers assistance with daily living activities. The housing authority also partnered with PeaceHealth to provide weekly in-home visits.

“The Lincoln Place model has been very successful over the last few years. We’ve seen over a 90 percent housing stability rate going on the third consecutive year now,” Silver added.

The cost to build Lincoln Place 2 is estimated at $13.8 million. Along with the $2 million from the mental health sales tax receipts, $5 million is anticipated from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund and $6.8 million could come from a 9 percent tax credit equity the VHA will apply for this fall.

“You know I’m a real cheerleader for this kind of facility,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said, noting he’s been supportive of the project since the housing authority briefed the council on it three years ago.

Medvigy said “it should absolutely be a requirement” for tenancy that individuals with substance abuse issues attend the detox and treatment services they need.

“We want to help them, we want them to be clean and sober and move on to permanent housing,” Medvigy said.

However, Silver said measuring success for those housed at Lincoln Place isn’t as straightforward or easy to address as with other subsidized housing. He said many tenants will always need some kind of subsidized housing, but hopefully not the level of on-site support provided at Lincoln Place.

“We do not evict somebody from Lincoln Place if they are not accessing treatment and staying clean. Instead, we continue to engage them and work with them to get them to the point where they’re willing to seek treatment,” Silver said.

Silver said denying individuals access to Lincoln Place or evicting them would leave them with the same substance abuse disorder while putting them back out on the streets.

Construction on Lincoln Place 2 is expected to begin in fall 2023, with an opening date in late 2024.

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