Vancouver provides new, furnished homes to homeless with support services

By:  Mary Loos
Source: KATU

The City of Vancouver is battling homelessness by opening a brand new building for people who might otherwise die if they continued living on the streets.

The Lincoln Place Apartments have been built from the ground up on West Lincoln Avenue between 13th and 14th.

The project is a community effort to use the "housing first" idea. Giving homeless a stable place to live first, with support services offered once the person is settled.

"There will be staffing here 24 hours a day," Roy Johnson, the executive director of the Vancouver Housing Authority said. "They'll be case management that's offered, and there's actually a provider here that will be doing mental health and substance abuse counseling. We have all these other support services as well."

Each of the 30 studio apartments is furnished with everything from a bed to full bathroom and kitchen facilities. One on each floor of the three story building is ADA approved, too.

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell was on hand to tour one of the apartments.

"I think it looks like security, it looks like home," she said.

The housing is subsidized, but residents will still have leases and pay rent, 30 percent of their income, if they can.

Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt says this is just a piece of the puzzle to solve homelessness.

"We've got work to do," he said. "And we know that we'll never completely solve the problem. We'll never completely solve the problem, but there are things that we can do to help those who are most vulnerable in our community."

SHARE Vancouver is working on the screening process for residents, which uses a risk assessment to move the people who are most vulnerable into the new apartments. SHARE is also still looking for donations to support the outfitting of the apartments with things like kitchen utensils and linens. The non-profit will work with other agencies to provide support to residents who should be moving in within a couple weeks.