Over the last three years, BUILD awardees have been working toward addressing social determinants of health and advancing health equity in their communities. To commemorate the end of our third cohort and spotlight their impactful work, we will be sharing each of our 18 communities’ stories — highlighting the partners’ collaborative approach to creating meaningful change in their community, the challenges they faced, and the transformative impact of these efforts for residents.

Located in Clark County, Vancouver is just under 10 miles from Portland, Oregon, and increasingly serves as a suburb of Portland. The Fourth Plain area—locally known as the International District for the more than 30 languages spoken there— includes neighborhoods north and south of Fourth Plain Boulevard in central Vancouver. Those neighborhoods include the highest percentage of Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Eastern European, and foreign-born residents in the county, with about 25 percent identifying as Latino and 16 percent as other non-white races. Infrastructure and historical changes challenge the diverse and bustling Fourth Plain — residents experience a higher number of health problems than in other areas of Clark County. Nearly 15 percent of Fourth Plain adults—twice the national rate—have asthma, likely due in part to mold in the aging housing stock. 27 percent of Fourth Plain adults are diagnosed with depression—over three times the national prevalence. For those who are housing insecure,the rate of depression is even higher.

With the ultimate, shared goal of improving the mental health status of Fourth Plain families, the BUILD Fourth Plain coalition is working to mitigate the negative impacts of unaffordable, substandard, and unstable housing. Based on the Fourth Plain Action Plan, BUILD Fourth Plain is addressing housing conditions through four intentional, systemic interventions: 1. strengthening local data infrastructure; 2. local legislative advocacy; 3. policy assessment and implementation; and 4. training local leaders to promote sustainable, healthy neighborhood development. In order to center community advocacy in the collaborative’s approach to housing and mental health, the Fourth Plain team launched a Community Advisory Committee (CAC), made up of residents from different backgrounds and types of experience, to guide decisions about the work of the collaborative and build community power through advocacy and leadership training.

Over the past three years, the Vancouver BUILD partnership has:

  • Supported advocacy efforts that helped enact three housing policies focused on just cause protections, legal representation for tenants, and reduced rent increases;
  • Infused $650,000+ into the Fourth Plain small business corridor to keep BIPOC-owned businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • And broke ground on a new 100+ unit affordable housing and mixed-use complex. designed by and for residents.

No matter how much development is coming in, the need is outpacing the supply. People are always moving to Portland; Fourth Plain is a suburb and people are leaving Portland because it’s getting too expensive.
—Heather Cochrun, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity

Read more about BUILD Fourth Plain’s impact in Vancouver and stay tuned monthly for more BUILD community stories!