Vancouver Housing Authority offers rent discount to residents entering child care workforce

The housing authority and its nonprofit Bridgeview are focused on helping those who are unemployed or underemployed build self-sufficiency

To build up the child care workforce, Vancouver Housing Authority is financially incentivizing tenants who become employed in a state-licensed child care facility.

Through its new program, the agency won’t count wages earned through child care work toward rent calculations – providing a time-limited exclusion in rent increase coinciding with the income increase. The housing authority and its nonprofit Bridgeview are focused on helping those who are unemployed or underemployed build self-sufficiency.

“We know that prior to the pandemic there was a lack of affordable and accessible child care,” said Bridgeview Executive Director Angie Sytsma.

To build up the child care workforce, Vancouver Housing Authority is financially incentivizing tenants who become employed in a state-licensed child care facility. File photo
To build up the child care workforce, Vancouver Housing Authority is financially incentivizing tenants who become employed in a state-licensed child care facility. File photo

She sees the Moving to Work incentive program as a way to solve the problem from the inside. Not having dependable child care can be a barrier to independence for low-income households.

“We’re leveraging the lived experience and knowledge of our residents,” Sytsma said. “They understand the problem quite intimately.”

Bridgeview is working with ESD 112 and Support for Early Learning and Families (SELF) to connect VHA residents with child care jobs.

Under the incentive program, 100 percent of participants’ wages will be excluded from rent calculations during the first year of employment. In the second year, 50 percent of wages will be counted toward rent.

Sytsma sees the program as a great opportunity for VHA residents to gain transferable work skills, build wealth and make a difference in the community. The availability of high-quality child care improves overall social determinants of health.

This program may be particularly helpful for those who just turned 18 and are delaying postsecondary education. Normally, VHA holds work-able adults accountable for imputed income; rent is calculated based on any work-able adults working 20 hours weekly at minimum wage even if they do not work. Through the incentive, work-able adults can earn income and not have it count toward rent costs.

The second phase of the program will help residents looking to open their own state-licensed child care business. Bridgeview will refer those interested to partner agencies whose resources may include microloans, small business training and help covering industry expenses.

“We’re trying to get more of our workforce into child care,” Sytsma said.

Interested residents can contact Bridgeview Resource Center at (360) 737-2950 or their Section 8 voucher specialist.

Information provided by the Vancouver Housing Authority.

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