Housing in Vancouver: Titania’s Story

January 9, 2024

The pursuit of home

Titania, 55, and her daughter, 18, moved to Vancouver from Florida in 2022. The family moved in with Titania’s sister while they searched for a place to live. As a single mom working for a near-minimum wage at a local grocer, options were limited. “For people looking for housing right now…you’re likely going to have to find roommates,” said Titania. “Doing it alone isn’t usually an option, especially with kids.”

Many apartments had a lengthy waiting list. Others were too expensive. But Titania isn’t the type to give up. When she found K West, an affordable apartment community on E. Fourth Plain, she got on the waiting list and kept calling. “It was my dream apartment,” she said. Six weeks later, she and her daughter moved into their new, one-bedroom home.

The easy access to public transit helps the family save on gas and vehicle maintenance costs. “The bus here in Vancouver is wonderful, always on time and always safe because of the security they hire.” In addition to getting to work, Titania and her daughter love that the Vancouver Mall is just a quick ride away.

But when Titania experienced medical issues last October, she left her job and the bills piled up. The Council for the Homeless stepped in to provide emergency rent assistance to keep the family in their home.

Titania’s experience is not unique. For many in Vancouver, a stable home is a paycheck-to-paycheck endeavor. Nearly half of Vancouver’s population rents (48%), and 57% of these renters are rent-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

Despite life’s ups and downs, Titania remains resilient. A colorful, handmade vision board covered in magazine clippings hangs in her living room as a daily reminder of her dreams. Among them, find true love and become a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Multi-family Tax Exemption Program

Titania lives at K West, one of Clark County’s largest income-restricted apartment communities. The developer received a 12-year tax exemption through the City’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program (MFTE). In exchange for providing income-restricted housing for households earning 115% or less of the current Area Median Income, the developer is receiving a partial tax break over 12 years. 

The MFTE program was initially established to incentivize multi-family housing development for all income levels in specific urban areas, including downtown and the Fourth Plain Boulevard corridor. Over time, the program has evolved and, in July 2023, several changes were adopted to help incentivize more affordable housing and multi-family development in more areas of the city.

Vancouver’s MFTE program is one of several tools the City uses to increase our community’s housing supply. Learn more about our housing programs.

How can we make Vancouver a better place to live for everyone?

As part of Vancouver’s next comprehensive plan, Our Vancouver, we have an exciting opportunity to shape our future growth and development, including how we support the development of needed housing for the entire Vancouver community.

We want to learn more about your neighborhood, future housing needs, and community health and well-being. Take the Our Vancouver Community Survey now until Feb. 16 to share your thoughts and help shape Vancouver’s future.