City officials in Vancouver, Washington, are impressed with the first round of proposals submitted to the Affordable Housing Fund.

In its first year, the city received 10 applications that would put nearly $5.8 million toward affordable housing. If fully funded, that would create 237 new housing units and rehabilitate 28 more.

“That’s huge,” said Peggy Sheehan, the city’s community development program manager. “The need for affordable housing is seen everywhere. We have an increase in homelessness, seniors priced out of their units, and we are still having rent increases.

“And it’s not just folks at the lowest income,” Sheehan added. “Almost every level of income is looking for affordable housing in Vancouver.”

About $4 million is available this year for affordable housing projects in Vancouver. The Vancouver City Council will decide how that money gets spent and which projects will move forward for funding.

“Looking down the list of applications, all of these entities are mission-driven,” said Andy Silver, who leads Clark County’s Council for the Homeless.

The Council for the Homeless submitted two proposals under a company called Housing Initiative. One would create an 18-room apartment building to service people transitioning out of homelessness. The other application partners with a local developer to build a 78-unit mixed income development in central Vancouver.

“One of the hopes of creating this fund is that it would help create more capacity in the market to develop housing,” Silver said. “Whether it’s nonprofits or for-profit entities or the housing authority, what you’re seeing with these applications are groups that are doing this because they want to help solve what’s happening in our community.”

In the past six years, rental prices in the city have nearly doubled and one out of every two renter households are cost-burdened, or spend a third of their income on housing. That prompted Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt to declare a housing crisis. And last November, voters approved a proposition to create the affordable housing fund.

The City Council plans to announce its final selections later this summer.

Project proposals received by the city include: 

  • Improvements to an existing home for single homeless mothers who are pregnant or parenting infants ($35,000) 
  • Construction of 49 low-income units, 37 of which would serve formerly homeless families and individuals ($1,032,520) 
  • Construction of 28 low-income units, 75 percent of which would be dedicated to people experiencing homelessness ($900,000) 
  • Construction of 30 units, 24 of which would be for low-income renters ($500,000) 
  • Construction of 30 units for chronically mentally ill homeless individuals ($500,000) 
  • Construction of four rent-to-own single family homes targeted to low income families with children ($200,000) 
  • Rehabilitation of two existing affordable housing properties that serve chronically homeless individuals and families ($89,000) 
  • Rehabilitation of an existing 20-unit affordable apartment building to serve seniors, chronically homeless individuals and veterans ($335,000) 
  • Construction of 18 low-income units in two buildings serving formerly homeless individuals and people with developmental disabilities ($250,000) 
  • Construction of 40 low-income units in a 78-unit mixed-income development serving families with children, seniors and formerly homeless individuals ($2 million)