Clark County Community Services, with assistance from staff at Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) and the city of Vancouver, selected Catholic Community Services of Western Washington to operate a non-congregate shelter near Vancouver Mall for people who are unhoused.
Catholic Community Services is an outreach of the Catholic Church that provides programs, shelters, and services for the poorest and most vulnerable people in Western Washington. A review committee comprising staff from the county, city, and VHA provided recommendations for an operator in late February. Services are expected to begin by early June.
VHA acquired the site for use as a shelter in early February. Until recently it operated as a Howard Johnson franchise hotel. The housing authority, Clark County Community Services, and the city of Vancouver are partnering and contributing funds toward the shelter, which will be called Bertha Cain Baugh Place.
It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Being a non-congregate shelter means households will have their own room and restroom, a critical feature during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Referrals to the shelter will occur through the county’s Coordinated Entry System. In addition to providing basic shelter services, Catholic Community Services will also connect and engage residents with services and community supports that address their physical and mental wellness and help them secure stable housing.
“Emergency shelter plays an important role in the homeless crisis response system by breaking the cycle of homelessness,” said Vanessa Gaston, Clark County Community Services Director. “It can be a transformational component to a system that tries to meet people’s basic needs while quickly moving them towards long-term stability.”
Funding for shelter operations will come from a variety of state, federal, and local sources.
Once funds to operate the shelter are expended, VHA plans to convert the facility into affordable rental housing for the community.
Catholic Community Services, VHA, Clark County Community Services, and the city of Vancouver will be holding additional information sessions for the neighborhood around the Shelter in April.