Letter to the editor: I urge community to press our county for resolution in favor of Grace Lodge


The Reflector recently covered the closure of Grace Lodge, a women’s recovery home in Battle Ground, that is due to close on April 30. I am a small business owner, and an active community member of 15 years, but most importantly, I am a daughter who has had the privilege of watching my mother rebuild her life through Grace Lodge.

I’d like to urge the community to continue to press our county for a resolution in favor of these women and our community.

Since the meeting, multiple council members have visited Grace Lodge, spending time listening to the stories of each woman at the lodge. The councilors’ interests appeared genuine and like most people in our community, many of the members graciously shared their own heartbreaking experiences with how drugs have affected their families, their passion to make change, and how they were even led into public service for this exact reason.

Learning that our elected officials are on the right side of justice, taking into consideration not just the county as a business, but the individuals themselves, is refreshing. However, this doesn’t change the fact the county is still set on evicting this vital resource Clark County has grown to rely on.

While XChange has secured housing for these women, this is creating a rippling effect by rehousing a men’s home. XChange has been clear: They understand the county has rules and expressed immense gratitude for having Grace Lodge for 13 years. In my opinion, as a member of the public and in no way speaking for XChange, the rules were set by the county, this imposition took into account little to no consideration of the direct societal impact. After rezoning nine years ago, there was no due diligence by the county to communicate a way forward, no option for grandfathering, as is customary and even expressed by the councilors at February’s meeting.

Even when presented with the heavy impact to the public, the county manager’s office has refused to change course, despite acknowledging the social impact their decisions will have, impacts not only felt by the residents but by the entire community as there will be an immediate effect.

In a time when Vancouver cannot afford to lose the capacity to house and treat our most vulnerable, the county manager has made it clear, they believe it is in the best interest of the county to “not be in the business of being a landlord” by enforcing zoning laws and preserving this land as a walking trail. I personally cannot think of a better conservation use than to conserve the well-being of our community, to heal those who have been broken, and breathing life into those who, in their own words, were “destined for death.”

The county councilors agree this eviction should not happen but have not provided a way to stop it. While XChange has an approved lease extension, we as a community need to press the county manager and our county councilors for a solution, not a Band-Aid.

Michelle Echlin,