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News / Business / Clark County Business

Partnership aims to ease barriers for first-time homebuyers in Clark County

Vancouver Housing Authority, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, Proud Ground join forces with builders

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 3, 2023, 6:07am

Much like the rest of the United States, Clark County residents looking to buy their first home are hit with a double whammy of scarce and expensive housing options.

Last week, research from Moneywise showed that Washington ranked third in the worst states for first-time homebuyers, with an average down payment of $77,445.

In efforts to relieve barriers for first time homebuyers, the Vancouver Housing Authority, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, and Proud Ground — a Portland-based nonprofit — have united to amplify affordable homeownership opportunities for Clark County residents. The partnership was formed to eliminate barriers first-time homebuyers face when entering the housing market.

To create a larger pool for affordable housing, the Vancouver Affordable Housing program will enter into acquisition agreements with residential builders to develop homes solely for the Clark County Affordable Homeownership Program.

The intention is to make homes below $430,000 available for those receiving homebuyer training from Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, Proud Ground, and other nonprofits participating in the program.

The collaborating team already has agreements with residential builders like Ginn Group and Wolf Industries. Another builder’s participation is also sought.

To qualify, homebuyers must earn below 80 percent of the average median income, which is at or less than $59,680, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, to participate in the program. Participating individuals must also complete homebuyer preparation with one of the participating entities and qualify for a mortgage.

Columbia Credit Union is available to assist first-time homebuyers in the program with navigating their mortgage options.

A critical ingredient of the program is the creation of a forecasted $3 million VHA and VAH Investment Fund, seeded with a $1.2 million, interest-free line of credit by Columbia Credit Union.

Vancouver Affordable Housing will use the investment nest egg every so often to temporarily purchase houses when homebuyer preparation and certificate of occupancy do not align.

“Homeownership is one of the greatest generational wealth builders available to our community. Columbia Credit Union is dedicated to creating impactful partnerships that promote inclusive, significant financial wellness. The Vancouver Housing Authority is connecting the dots, weaving together a path forward, orchestrating innovation in our local housing inventory,” Lindsey Salvestrin, Columbia Credit Union interim president and CEO, said in a statement.

Participating homebuyers are also eligible for Down Payment Assistance Loan Program funds administered by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. The fund includes the freshly established $1 million earmarked specifically for Clark County nonprofits.

The Clark County Affordable Homeownership Program will establish a 75 percent goal of household participation for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Applications are not ready to be accepted, but interested households can register on the website, CCAHP.org.

Community Funded Journalism logo

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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