Youths aging out of foster care have a new place to live in Vancouver, Wash.
The recently completed Caples Terrace serves young adults 18 to 24 years who might not otherwise have a place to live. It’s the first project by the Vancouver Housing Authority (VHA) to target this unique population.
“Even those who are in extended foster care and receive a stipend of about $800 a month cannot afford housing at a market rent,” says Hilaree Prepula, community and social services manager at VHA. “Caples Terrace is a great opportunity.”
The goal of the new development goes beyond providing housing. VHA leaders also hope it will give youths who often face a difficult time when they leave foster care the support needed to become independent and successful.
The 28-unit community is a public housing development, so residents are able to take part in VHA’s Family SelfSufficiency program. In addition, it’s strategically located across the street from the Bridgeview Education and Employment Resource Center, with Bridgeview and Janus Youth providing services and case management for residents.
In planning for Caples Terrace, VHA leaders assembled a focus group made up of young adults who had left foster care. These participants were key in helping developers create the new community. For example, their feedback helped lead to an inviting third-floor community room that’s large enough for all the residents to gather for activities and meetings.
The team also incorporated more durable materials in the apartments, drains in the bathroom and kitchen floors, and fire-suppressant features for the stoves, according to Victor Caesar, VHA development projects manager.
Half of the apartments serve residents earning up to 30% of the area median income (AMI) and half are for residents earning up to 50% of the AMI. All of the apartments are public housing, with residents paying 35% of their income toward rent.
VHA is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Work (MTW) program, which allows participating housing authorities to waive or streamline some regulations as well as develop innovative programs. Using its MTW authority, officials are requiring residents to participate in different efforts that aim to help them be self-sufficient.
More than half of the funding for the $8.2 million development came from low-income housing tax credit equity from KeyBankCommunity Development Lending and Investment. Caples Terrace also received $850,000 from Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Fund. The remainder came from VHA.