Residents Continue to Find Success with Housing First Model at Lincoln Place
Since opening in 2015, Lincoln Place in downtown Vancouver has experienced continued success as a Housing First approach for those experiencing homelessness through the partnership between Vancouver Housing Authority and Share.
“We collaborate in a beautiful way to make Lincoln Place work,” said Michelle Bittinat, Housing Achievement & Enrichment Program Director, in a new video produced by Vancouver Housing Authority. “At the center of everything we do here, it’s with the residents’ best interest in mind.”
Lincoln Place has achieved a housing stability rate of 87% amongst residents—and 10 of them are original residents. Those that have moved out have done so for a variety of reasons, including moving into more independent housing with a voucher, into scattered site housing or assisted living. “We have an aging population that has resulted in a close relationship with home health and hospice as a few clients have passed away in home.” Evictions are an absolute last option, with stability plans and a mediation process implemented to work towards stability, and only when necessary to create a safe space for the residents and staff.
There is also a sustainable employee retention rate. “I have many staff who started here, gained skills and abilities, and have grown to new positions within Share that I’m proud of. So, our employee retention looks different than just working at Lincoln Place. However, four of our staff have been here at Lincoln Place for more than four years. That consistency and stability has helped our clients to live more independently, through the trust built with staff,” added Bittinat.
Residents agree, including Marina and James who shared about their home at Lincoln Place.
“I had a pretty good life, up until about age 25. Eventually my illness got so bad, I wasn’t able to get out of bed. I was homeless because my mom couldn’t cope with me in the house,” said Marina. “I’m really glad I’m here, because I have a ton of support, caretakers that work in the building.”
James shared that before moving into Lincoln Place, he had been on probation, in and out of jail. It was the stability that made the difference for him. “Here, I have a place to go and rest my head every night and it’s nice. The building is secure, I feel safe, it’s mellowed me out a lot.”
Supportive services are key, such as daily meals from Share Hot Meals for residents that may not be able to cook for themselves and an on-site physician also meets with residents. John Nusser, Family Physician at PeaceHealth, shared: “We’ve been coming to Lincoln Place for a year and half. As primary care doctors, we provide basics of care like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and when there are mental health crises, we help as best we can. It’s meeting folks where they’re at.”
In this 30-unit apartment complex, community building remains essential. “Lincoln Place is a family, a community of people who deeply care about each other,” said Bittinat. “We are walking alongside of our clients and they’re teaching us so much.”
To watch the complete video, produced by Vancouver Housing Authority and PK Video, click here.