City of Lakewood announcement.
Lakewood, Wash. – The Comfort Inn near 84th and Hosmer in Tacoma will soon reopen as a homeless shelter. Residents were able to ask about the shelter’s operations during a community Q&A event held on Monday, Nov. 22, hosted by Safe Streets Tacoma and the Low Income Housing Institute.
The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) purchased the hotel in October with funds contributed by Pierce County, the City of Tacoma, and the City of Lakewood. LIHI will manage daily operations of the shelter. LIHI has previously converted several other hotels into shelters, and operates several tiny house villages and “urban rest stops”.
“We think that we can end homelessness for hundreds of people. It’s not magic, it’s hard work, but we have a dedicated staff that works household by household to increase their self-sufficiency and get themselves out of homelessness.”Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute
Lakewood and Tacoma residents have expressed questions and concerns about the hotel, mostly pertaining to neighborhood effects and conditions for entry.
Lee stated that the facility is committed to being a “good neighbor” and has begun to form a community advisory committee to liaise with the neighborhood. The facility will have video surveillance, full-time staffing, perimeter checks, and rules to prohibit loitering, trespassing, and other illicit activity. Lee also stated that prior hotel conversions became community assets – by sheltering homeless people in the area, neighborhood nuisances and crime decreased.
Occupants will stay at the shelter for 3-6 months. Occupants are to agree to and abide by a code of conduct throughout their stay. The code of conduct encompasses violence, substance use, safety, cleanliness, case management, and other rules. Failure to abide by the code of conduct may result in expulsion.
Each occupant of the shelter will receive individual case management. The facility’s objective is to be a “bridge”, and for occupants to eventually secure permanent housing and demonstrate progress towards independence.
LIHI measures success by “positive move-outs”, or residents that leave having secured permanent housing. Other nearby LIHI-run shelters have had over 70 positive move-outs since October, with one facility approaching a 70% positive move-out rate. LIHI introduced Tabitha, a former resident of one of their tiny home villages. She is now employed full-time, owns a car, and rents her own apartment.
“When I did get into the tiny homes, the first thing I wanted to do was shower… Being homeless, I felt like I would never get a job being dirty all the time. Not long after getting to the tiny homes, my case manager helped me with my resume and I got a part-time job. It was great to be able to shower every day for work, and to have a safe place to sleep and leave my few belongings while I was at work.”Tabitha, former resident of a LIHI tiny home village