Looking Back on Roy Johnson's Vancouver Housing Authority Accomplishments upon His Retirement

Date Published: 
January 30th, 2024

From the Vancouver Housing Authority:

When Roy Johnson became Vancouver Housing Authority’s leader in February of 2008, the Clark County (and national) housing landscape looked vastly different than it does today. So much has changed. So much has been built and funded and created in the last 16 years. Not to mention, housing has gotten a lot more expensive, making the agency’s work even more crucial.

Johnson learned to be a persistent advocate for building more affordable housing.

“If not for us, it might not get done so we have to do it,” he said.

What stood out to Johnson during his tenure was the first of their kind projects. Lincoln Place, which opened in 2016, marked the agency’s first housing first project, bringing much-needed supportive housing and services to those experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges. (The agency looks to build on the success of Lincoln Place and the lessons learned from this first project with Lincoln Place 2.)

Caples Terrace and Nám'u qas, built in 2019 and 2023 respectively, both serve youth aging out of foster care and homeless youth — a population the housing authority hadn’t targeted before. These communities ensure young people get on a path to independence and success.

Tenny Creek, an assisted living facility for homeless people with health issues that opened in 2022, was the first of its kind not just in Clark County but in the entire state.

In 2023, Johnson launched the Clark County Affordable Homeownership Program. He pulled together nonprofits, financial institutions and other partners in an effort to make homeownership more obtainable.

Johnson said the vast amount of collaboration in Clark County made these projects possible; it’s why the area punches above its weight when it comes to boosting affordable housing. VHA’s designation as a Moving to Work Agency was what initially drew him to work here.

“It made our programs more adaptable to the actual housing economy in Clark County,” Johnson said.

And the community’s needs have shifted toward more supportive housing. Some Clark County residents with behavioral health challenges need extra support and services to help them maintain their housing. When Johnson started in 2008, supportive housing wasn’t yet part of the conversation. Likewise, he’s expanded the services provided to tenants that help them address hurdles after they’re housed.

Andy Silver, who became CEO when Johnson retired, watched Johnson will things into existence whether it was a new building, program or funding source.

“Somehow it leads to a groundbreaking ceremony or a new service – name your project,” Silver said. The community is much better off for the work Johnson’s done, he said.

Johnson attributes his success to having a talented, supportive board and staff.

“You can do pretty remarkable things when you have the support of others and that’s been present here,” Johnson said.

Between January of 2008 and December of 2023, Roy Johnson . . .

  • Completed a total of 19 different affordable housing projects (more than one per year), representing:
    • 41 buildings
    • 825,289 total square feet
    • 863 affordable housing/subsidized units
  • Projects include LIHTC units; Section 8 subsidized; age 62+ housing; public housing that is now being converted to PBV and TBV housing; and the 31st Street Tiny Homes.  Many of these projects are a mix of market rent and subsidized or LIHTC housing. 
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