This FAQ is designed for community members looking for information about the Council for the Homeless and our community’s response to homelessness. This page will be updated periodically, so please check back for new information. A separate FAQ is being developed for Housing Solutions Center clients. If you are in need of housing assistance, click here.
Where are you located?We have two offices.
- The Council for the Homeless Housing Solutions Center (where we work with clients) is located at 2306 NE Andresen, Suite A, Vancouver, WA 98661.
- The Council for the Homeless administrative office is located at 2500 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660. This is also the mailing address for our organization.
In a nutshell, what does the Council for the Homeless do?Founded is 1989, The Council for the Homeless is a nonprofit organization that leads the community’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness in Clark County. This means we work with social service providers, government, faith communities, educators, businesses and more to identify and implement solutions to homelessness. Our role includes the following:
- Operating the Housing Solutions Center, which includes the Housing Hotline, placing people in available emergency shelter, assessments for housing programs and rental assistance to prevent homelessness, navigation to access other community resources, working with landlords, and community voicemail.
- Coordinating the emergency winter overflow shelter known as the Winter Hospitality Overflow.
- Facilitating the Coalition of Service Providers.
- Administering the Homeless Management Information system, which collects homeless service data used to monitor trends and evaluate strategies.
- Educating and advocating for best practice solutions to prevent and end homelessness in Clark County.
While we place people in emergency shelters and housing programs run by other organizations, we do not own or operate emergency shelters, own or manage apartment complexes, or pay rent/give people money to pay their rent.
Who do you help at the Housing Solutions Center?We serve people who are literally homeless (living in a car, on the street, or in an emergency shelter) and those who are losing their housing in the near future. Unfortunately, there are not enough resources in the community to meet the demand, so there are many people who call us that we are not able to serve. Examples of resources include shelter space, housing subsidies, or rental vacancies.
What services do you offer at the Housing Solutions Center?The Housing Solutions Center is the one-stop access point for people to learn about housing assistance offered at multiple agencies. At the Housing Solutions Center our staff and volunteers
- operate the Housing Hotline.
- are the access point for over 40 housing assistance programs operated by partner agencies.
- determine client eligibility and conduct assessments to determine the type of housing assistance that will give an individual or family the best chance of success.
- help our clients who have barriers to renting (such as previous evictions) find rental housing.
- help our clients meet basic needs (such as food, transportation, public benefits) by accessing resources through our Navigation program.
The services an individual or family does or does not receive is based on their particular circumstances and resources available through our partner agencies at any given time. Because there are not enough resources in our community to meet the need, we are unfortunately not able to place everyone who is eligible for assistance into an appropriate program.
Why have a one-stop access point like the Housing Solutions Center?The Housing Solutions Center was created in response to the community’s request for improvements to the homeless service system. The benefits of the Housing Solutions Center include:
- People in need have only one place to contact for assistance rather than making multiple contacts with multiple organizations. This saves them time, energy, and money.
- Over 40 housing assistance programs (including emergency shelter) are represented at the Housing Solutions Center. People in need are placed in the program that gives them the best chance of success.
- The Housing Solutions Center helps social service agencies operate more efficiently. By avoiding duplication of efforts, agency staff are freed up to work with clients rather than spend time doing intakes, screenings, and eligibility determinations.
- The one-stop access point helps our community better understand the needs of homeless singles and families. By collecting data, we can monitor trends, close gaps, and evaluate our efforts.
How do people access your services?People who are homeless call the Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677. The Housing Hotline is open Monday thru Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am-2pm. On Federal Holidays, the Hotline is open 11am-2pm. We do not take “walk ins,” clients must call the Housing Hotline first.
People who are behind in their rent or doubled up with family or friends (and can no longer stay), can call the Housing Hotline to learn if any homelessness prevention programs have openings. If there are openings, we will screen callers to see if they are eligible. Unfortunately, most of the people who call for prevention assistance will not be served because our partner agencies do not have enough resources to meet the need.
What happens when someone calls the Housing Hotline?One of our intake specialists will assist the person and screen them for services.
- If the person is in need of emergency shelter and space is available, they will be placed into one of the local shelters.
- If the person is in need of help to obtain stable housing, they will have the opportunity to speak with an assessment specialist who will screen them to see if an in-person housing assessment is needed.
- If the caller is in need of homelessness prevention resources, they will be assessed for eligibility when our partner programs have openings.
What types of housing assistance programs (operated by partner agencies) do you place people into?Housing assistance programs include emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, transitional housing, homelessness prevention, and permanent supportive housing. Each type of program is designed for specific populations facing particular circumstances. Each type of program also has unique requirements often based on their source of funding.
Currently, we determine eligibility and conduct placements for housing assistance programs offered by Share, Second Step Housing, Community Services NW, Janus Youth, The Salvation Army, and Impact NW. We also manage the eligibility and placements for the Winter Hospitality Overflow (WHO.)
What about other organizations (such as churches or other non-profits) that offer housing assistance?There are some privately-funded organizations in Clark County that offer a variety of homeless services. Many collaborate with the Council for the Homeless and we appreciate all they do. At this time, these organizations manage their own intake, eligibility, and placements.
I encouraged someone to call you for assistance. But, when they did they were told there was no help available. Why are some people helped and others not?There are many factors that go in to the type of help someone receives through the Housing Hotline and the Housing Solutions Center. We strive to be fair and consistent in each situation. Factors include the following:
- Housing situation: Different resources are available if you are living in a car, on the streets, or staying in an emergency shelters vs. needing help with back rent.
- Demographics: Different resources are available for different populations, for example teenagers, veterans, or disabled.
- Income: Different resources are available depending on the level of income someone has.
- Available resources including openings in shelters or housing programs: Unfortunately, the need in our community is far greater than the resources available.
- Eligibility: A variety of circumstances may affect a person’s or family’s eligibility for housing assistance.
Can people bring pets into emergency shelters?The use of a service animal in shelter or rental housing is a legally protected right. Service animals are not considered to be a “pet.” Pets (e.g. the family dog or cat) are not allowed in shelters. Pets in rental housing are subject to the rules established by private landlords.
How can I help?There is a lot you can do to help.
- Download a copy of the Clark County Resource Guide (updated 3.1.17) to share with people in need. Encourage people to call the Housing Hotline 360-695-9677 if they need help with emergency shelter or housing.
- If you have a room, apartment, or house to rent to someone in a housing assistance program, please contact Charlene Welch.
- Volunteers are golden – click here to learn how you can make a difference today.
- Donors are an important part of our team! Please contribute funds to help us help others. Click here to donate and thank you!
- Encourage people within your personal and professional circles to donate. Your faith community, workplace, social or service group, or others can hold an event or special giving opportunity to benefit the Council for the Homeless.