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News Release
Bertha Cain Baugh
Bertha Cain Baugh
Vancouver Housing Authority to name non-congregate shelter Bertha Cain Baugh Place (Photo) - 02/17/21

Vancouver Housing Authority will name its newest homeless shelter after a founding member of the NAACP Vancouver branch.

Last week, VHA closed on the purchase of the 63-room Howard Johnson by Wyndham Vancouver Hotel & Suites for use as a non-congregate shelter that will be called Bertha Cain Baugh Place.

Bertha Baugh became active in several local organizations including the NAACP, YWCA and League of Women Voters after moving to Vancouver in 1945 with her husband David. However, the Evergreen Highlands resident worked in Portland because she couldn’t get a teaching job in Vancouver.

She was told her credentials were lost and that “Vancouver was not ready for colored teachers.” She instead taught in Vanport at the suggestion of Mark Smith, who worked at VHA and was president of the NAACP. After Vanport flooded, Baugh taught at George Elementary and Bridger Elementary School in Portland. Shortly before retiring she earned national recognition as an Outstanding Elementary Teacher of America.

Baugh died April 29, 2017, just shy of her 99th birthday.

Andy Silver, VHA’s director of supportive services, said Baugh’s experience working in Vanport highlights the history of housing, race and redlining.

“People of color are disproportionately represented in the homeless population – both nationally and in Clark County and Vancouver. That is a direct result of the way we as a country have used housing to benefit certain racial groups to the detriment of others,” he said.  

Bertha Cain Baugh Place is among VHA’s efforts to redress wrongs of the past.

“I listened to Bertha talk about housing as a main issue in the NAACP,” said Lynn Baugh, Bertha Baugh’s niece.

Although Baugh did not have any children, she looked after her nieces and nephews as though they were her own. As an educator, she was a mother figure to many.  

“She was a strong determined woman. She might’ve had a sweet mind and gracious demeanor, but Bertha had the will of steel, a backbone of steel,” Lynn Baugh said.

Nephew Dale Baugh said he is pleased his aunt will become the shelter’s namesake because she “always tried to improve the lives of others.”

A dedication will be held at a later date. The shelter is a joint venture of the city of Vancouver, Clark County and VHA, which are in the process of reviewing proposals from potential shelter operators.

Attached Media Files: Bertha Cain Baugh
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