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City forgives $15,000 of loan Share Vancouver stopped paying on in 2010

$25,000 loan helped nonprofit rebuild after arson destroyed a shelter

By Alexis Weisend, Columbian staff reporter
Published: February 27, 2024, 2:18pm

The Vancouver City Council on Monday forgave $15,000 of a $25,000 loan that homeless organization Share received in 1999. Still, some councilors voiced concerns about why Share stopped making payments on the loan in 2010.

The Vancouver nonprofit is one of Clark County’s largest providers of emergency shelter. It gives out meals and supplies to people living outside and cleans up homeless campsites around Vancouver.

In 1979, 40 community members built Share by each contributing $1,000. But in 1996, arson destroyed one of Share’s shelters.

“In 1999, the building was rebuilt thanks in no small part to the funds from government entities such as the state, county and the city of Vancouver,” Share Executive Director Amy Reynolds said in an email Tuesday.

That year, the city awarded Share a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant, half as a repayable loan.

Share made six payments totaling $10,000 toward the $25,000 outstanding debt, according to a city staff report. The nonprofit organization was already about $8,000 behind when it stopped repaying the loan in 2010.

“I don’t know how it fell behind between the cracks,” said Samantha Whitley, city housing programs manager. “Amy is a new director there, and I took over since then. And so we’re both kind of in the dark about what happened and why they stopped paying in 2010.”

Reynolds said there has been a lot of turnover in Share’s finance department, so it may have been an oversight.

“That’s worrisome and concerning with public tax dollars,” Councilor Diana Perez said Monday.

City Manager Eric Holmes said the city has measures, including annual monitoring and reporting requirements, that will ensure a situation like this won’t happen again.

When Perez asked what would happen if the city council did not forgive the loan, Whitley said Share would pay it back.

“Well, it’s hard for me to support this knowing that they are capable of continuing to pay back at a reasonable amount that would work,” Perez said.

Perez and Councilor Kim Harless voted against forgiving the loan.

Reynolds said Share’s goal is to have a balanced budget each year, but the nonprofit lost money in 2023.

Share uses grant funding to operate programs and private dollars to fill in the gaps in grant funding, Reynolds said.

“This past year was one of only a very few in our history where we ended the year in the red,” she said.

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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