Office of Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council, District 6 press release.
The first of many steps Council plans to take to end street homelessness and provide supportive housing in Pierce County occurred Friday with the announcement of a hotel purchase in Tacoma.
This model has been successful in other areas of the country and it allows the people served a chance to find stability, along with privacy. This also mean our amazing providers are then afforded the opportunity to truly evaluate needs, determine what has prevented them from finding more stable housing, and work to solve those problems.
Here is the release from the Low Income Housing Institute:
Low Income Housing Institute Announces Purchase of Comfort Inn for Enhanced Shelter in Tacoma
The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) purchased the 94-room Comfort Inn located at 8620 South Hosmer St. in Tacoma on October 29. The purchase was made with capital investment contributions from Pierce County, City of Tacoma and City of Lakewood for $8.8 million.
The acquisition of the Comfort Inn is part of a bold initiative of the County and its municipalities as well as local homelessness advocates to address street homelessness and develop a plan by November 1 for ending homelessness in Pierce County. For the first two years LIHI will operate the building as an enhanced shelter to address the region’s homelessness crisis. The City of Tacoma has committed to two years of operating and services funding.
LIHI will operate the property initially as an enhanced shelter for up to 120 men, women, and couples, including people with pets. The purpose is to expand shelter to vulnerable people who are experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. People will be eligible to stay at the site for three to six months. Staff will be on-site 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Referrals will come from the City of Tacoma’s HOT team, local service agencies and the City of Lakewood. On-site case managers will help residents with housing and employment applications, including assisting them obtain their identification cards and other documentation.
After the initial two years, the property will shift to providing permanent supportive housing (PSH) for people experiencing homelessness. LIHI will be applying for additional funds from the State Department of Commerce.
“We are grateful to Pierce County and the cities of Tacoma and Lakewood for their foresight and compassion to help our unhoused neighbors. We have the opportunity during the pandemic to purchase a building to provide 120 people with a safe, warm place to get out of the cold and improve their lives this winter,” said LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee.
“We are pleased to help create a safe, warm place for our residents who need it,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier. “Partnering with LIHI and other cities allows us to bring together the resources needed to make this possible and offers a model for the future.”
“Approaching homelessness from a regional perspective gives us access to expanded and innovative approaches like this one,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “I hope this will be the first of many partnerships to address this important issue.”
“The opportunity to invest in an emergency shelter accessible to people from Lakewood as well as Tacoma and Pierce County will help all of our communities,” stated Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson. “This is a chance to maximize the effectiveness of American Rescue Plan funds and help those most in need as quickly as possible.”
Pierce County Councilmember Ryan Mello said: “Pierce County takes incredibly seriously the need to address our homelessness crisis in a humane and holistic way. This project brings together many funding and community partners to provide much needed emergency shelter space with services that will help folks stabilize and get back on their feet. This site will transition into permanent supportive housing after it is no longer needed as an emergency shelter – adding to the inventory of much needed deeply affordable housing. This is a great use and leverage of our American Rescue Plan Act dollars.”
“This is a welcome investment in this corridor, and a huge step forward for how we’re addressing homelessness,” said Tacoma City Council Member Chris Beale. “LIHI is a trusted partner with a long record of working with the City to provide shelter options to our unhoused neighbors and I am confident their work will make a big difference to our regional strategy for addressing this key issue.”
The hotel has spacious hotel rooms, generously sized common spaces, and room for management offices, counseling offices and a live-in staff person. Each unit has a refrigerator, microwave, TV, wifi, closet, private bath and A/C. The building has sprinklers, elevator, laundry room, double paned windows, security cameras, and parking. The three-story building was built in 2000. The site is 54,014 square feet.
For information about the Low Income Housing Institute, please visit www.LIHI.org.