Homelessness and Housing Stability

Increase shelter capacity to 50 beds by December 2020.

Short-term Shelter Stays (1-90 days)

This goal is measured by the percent of homeless individuals who stayed in a short-term shelter less than 90 days. This indicator is important as homelessness should be experienced briefly.

Exits to Permanent Housing

This goal is measured by the number of homeless individuals who stayed at a shelter and found permanent housing. This indicator is important as individuals experience with homelessness should not reoccur.

Why Is This Important?

There is a limited amount of shelter capacity in the City of Tacoma, which leaves many families, and individuals living in places not meant for human habitation while they wait for shelter space to become available. Households experiencing homelessness spend more time than necessary waiting for shelter space to become available, creating an unsafe and unstable environment. Families and individuals should move through the shelter system more quickly and into permanent housing solutions. 

What Will We Do?

To increase shelter capacity for families and individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Tacoma has undertaken a process to expand shelter capacity through capital projects. Additionally, NCS has engaged faith-based and non-profit organizations using a ‘systems framework’ that creates a shared vision to support temporary sheltering efforts. The result will be fewer occurrences of unsheltered homelessness in the 2019-2020 biennium.

Ongoing Funding for Homelessness and Household Stability

The 2019-2020 biennium includes $2.8 million in General Fund support, $4.9 million of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Tax funding, and $375k in Community Development Block Grant for homelessness related programs. Additionally, $208k of Emergency Solutions Grant funding is dedicated to housing and sheltering services. This totals $8.4 million in support of homelessness and household stability services. These services are part of the City's ongoing effort to address homelessness. 
Separate from this budget, the City allocated $2.3 million for the Public Health State of Emergency services in 2019.

Emergency Response to Homelessness

In 2017, the Tacoma City Council declared a state of emergency of public health and safety due to growing encampments creating health and safety hazards to those living in and around encampments. As part of these efforts the City launched the three phase approach to responding to homelessness.
Phase I was conducted between May and June of 2017 with the aim to provide people living in conditions unsuitable for human habitation with basic health and safety amenities. A City sanctioned encampment named the 'Mitigation Site' was established with portable bathrooms, solid waste bins, meals, site management and security. The City’s Homeless Outreach Team provided resources and support for individuals choosing relocating to The Mitigation Site and to businesses in obtaining City support for their business districts.
Phase II included the establishment of the 'Stability Site' in June 2017. The Stability Site is operated on City-owned property and replaced the Mitigation Site as a way to reduce the impacts of encampments on the surrounding community by centralizing service delivery, limiting occupancy, and providing safety and stability to the individuals temporarily residing there. The goal is to provide people who are experiencing chronic homelessness a place to reside, receive social and health services, basic amenities, support healing trajectories, and prepare them for permanent housing. The Stability Site accommodates approximately 90 individuals who are permitted to stay for 90 days, or longer so long as they have established and are following a plan to secure permanent housing.  
Phase III is an evolving process of considering long-term strategies to meet the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The City continues to learn from the Emergency Response to Homelessness and is using the data and experience to inform policy, implementation of strategies and future funding priorities. The largest need for individuals living on the streets of Tacoma is for permanent supportive housing. The City is pursuing options through to secure new permanent supportive housing units through the Affordable Housing Action Strategy.

Neighborhood & Community Services
For more information about Neighborhood & Community Services, visit www.cityoftacoma.org/ncs