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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Vancouver council awards millions to add affordable housing and shelter beds

Funds come from property-tax levy and federal grant money

By Alexis Weisend, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 7, 2024, 3:15pm

Millions of dollars for affordable housing, rental assistance and services for homeless people are coming to Vancouver this summer.

The money from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund and the federal government will help around 5,000 people with services for housing, homelessness, foster care and domestic violence, Vancouver city councilors said at their Monday night meeting.

“We have historically underproduced housing in this community. We have been underproducing housing for literally decades,” Vancouver City Councilor Ty Stober said.

On Monday night, the Vancouver City Council approved $12.7 million from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund to go to 13 projects. Together the projects will add 144 affordable housing units to Vancouver’s supply, a 14-bed group home, 20 homes for ownership, staffing for 28 shelter beds and rental assistance for 134 households.

The funds come from a 2016 voter-approved property tax levy that provided $42 million to support affordable housing projects through 2023. The levy was renewed in February of 2023 to provide $100 million in funding from 2024 to 2033.

The largest recipient of the funds is Council for the Homeless, which will receive $3.68 million to use for rental assistance.

Samantha Whitley, the city’s housing programs manager, said some projects required local funds before they could receive state funds needed for the projects to move forward.

So, councilors basically took an advance of $3 million expected to be collected in 2025 to cover the gap in the 2024 awards. This means around $6.5 million will be available for awards next year.

Funding from the feds

Monday, councilors also approved a plan for spending U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds through 2028.

The city needed to create a plan to unlock $1.39 million in Community Development Block Grant Program funds, $657,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships funds and $300,000 in HOME Investment Partnerships American Rescue Plan Program funds for July 1 through June 30, 2025.

The city awarded Evergreen Habitat for Humanity and the nonprofit Proud Ground $400,000 for helping families purchase homes. Council for the Homeless and Housing Connector received $300,000 total for homeless supportive services. Janus Youth Programs, a nonprofit that serves homeless youth, and Share will receive $452,500 total.

Nonprofits YWCA Clark County, a domestic violence shelter; Thrive 2 Survive, a nonprofit serving homeless people; Fosterful, which serves children and families in foster care; and Council for the Homeless received a combined $200,000.

After the city submits the plan to HUD, the funding will become available July 1.

Council for the Homeless estimated there were more than 9,000 people experiencing homelessness in Clark County in 2022.

“It’s taken us decades to get to this desperate place and it will take us decades to get back out of the mess we’re in,” Stober said.

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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.