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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Dec. 7, 2023

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Open House Ministries gains $1M grant to support affordable housing

30-unit building for families experiencing homelessness to host retail training facility on first floor

By , Columbian staff reporter

Open House Ministries will receive $1 million to bolster local affordable housing.

On Wednesday, nonprofit foundation M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced it would grant $1 million to the faith-based organization that aids Vancouver families experiencing homelessness. The funding will help develop its new affordable apartment building, OHM West, in downtown Vancouver.

“This will be a vital asset to our organization and our mission,” said Reneé Stevens, executive director for Open House Ministries.

Earlier this year, the organization broke ground on the property at 1212 Jefferson St. The 30-unit and four-floor building will provide affordable apartment options for families transitioning from the Open House Ministries’ family shelter.

The building is anticipated to start welcoming families in the spring 2024.

The transitional apartment building will include a mixture of studio, one, two, and three-bedroom units. The ground floor will be a retail space for Secondhand Solutions Thrift Store and Wheel Deals Bicycle Shop, providing residents with vocational training.

The building is next to the Open House Ministries campus, and residents will have access to on-site resources, including case management, educational programs, parenting and weekly chapel.

“Residents moving into OHM West will have access to wrap-around services from our ministry. Families have a much greater success rate with continued support once they leave our shelter and enter back into the community,” said Stevens.

In May, Open House Ministries received the largest slice of a $26 million pie from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, with $5 million also going toward its OHM West building.

The 30 available units will bridge the gap for many residents who need affordable housing in the county.

In Clark County, a minimum of 1,300 people are experiencing homelessness. The 2023 point-in-time count conducted by Council for the Homeless showed that unsheltered homelessness is rising, with high rent prices and lack of affordable units being some driving causes.

A recent National Low Income Housing Coalition report captured a mid-pandemic snapshot (2021); for every 100 low-income renters in Vancouver, only 22 affordable homes exist.

“Open House Ministries knows the needs of their local community and is taking steps to meet them,” said Rudy Carrasco, program director at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in a press release. “They’ve been doing this for nearly 40 years, and their investment in a new affordable housing and retail training facility is a major next step that we are glad to support.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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