On December 2nd, many of the residents of Courtyard Village Apartments in Vancouver, Washington received legal notices to vacate their apartments by January 1st so that the new owners can renovate the complex, and increase the cost of rent. The current assumption that the remainder of the residents of the 151-unit apartment complex will eventually receive similar notices as the renovation continues. While this is within the legal rights of the owner, it puts the residents in a difficult situation. Courtyard Village is the largest low-income complex in the Rose Village neighborhood. Many residents will have a difficult time coming up with first and last month’s rent, a deposit, and move-in fees. Some of the residents have past histories that make it more difficult for them to rent, and there is a lack of vacancies in Clark County.
When Northwest Personal Training owner Sherri McMillan heard about this, she quickly created a fun run fundraising event on Facebook and rallied the local community to participate. “This just strikes me as heartless and scrooge-like!” said McMillan on the event’s Facebook page. She requested that each person donate a minimum of $10 to Council for the Homeless, which is leading efforts to help the displaced residents. The run wouldn’t be an official race, just a community run/walk to bring people together to give to the residents in need. “No medals, no t-shirts, no timing…just an opportunity to help out some people who are in a really bad situation during the holiday season. After all, shouldn’t this be what the holidays are all about…the season of giving and helping!” She also encouraged people to have fun with it, and to dress in festive apparel.
As someone who knows Sherri and her passion for helping others, and as someone who had searched for an apartment earlier this year and struggled to find affordable options, I really felt compelled to help. Although I have a good job with benefits, and no dependents, I had no rental history, and I had a really difficult time trying to find housing. I was really fortunate to have friends, family, and coworkers in the area who were willing to take me in until I was able to purchase a condo, or to help me out in any way they could. It was incredibly stressful, but I was very lucky to have a lot of support. There are many who are not so fortunate, and I can only imagine what it must be like being in that situation during the holidays. So I decided to take part in the event, and to reach out to all of the people I know to help out also.
Sherri’s enthusiasm was contagious–by the end of the week, over 2,000 people had been invited to the event. More than 200 runners and walkers came to the event, including Vancouver Councilmember Alishia Topper. Many others who could not attend still sent money. As of Sunday afternoon, just hours after the race, Sherri’s event raised over $8500 for Council for the Homeless, which included a donation of $2000 by Columbia United Providers.
Numerous community groups have joined together to raise awareness and funds to assist the residents of the Courtyard Village Apartments, including Washington Elementary School and Vancouver Public Schools, and Vancouver Housing Authority. Prior to the fun run, over $10,000 had been raised., and the goal is to raise $24,000 by December 31st.
Donations can be made online here, or checks can be mailed to the Council for the Homeless, 2500 Main St., Vancouver, WA 98660. Checks should be made out to “Council for the Homeless,” and include “Courtyard Village” on the memo line.