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Tacoma sets sights on buying hotel to convert into homeless shelter

(KIRO 7)

Tacoma will soon begin moving forward on plans to purchase a hotel to use as an emergency homeless shelter, and eventually convert into permanent low-income housing.

Researchers see ‘compelling’ results from bringing homeless into hotels

According to the Tacoma News Tribune, the city intends to put $5 million in federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan toward buying a Comfort Inn located on South Hosmer Street, with Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) tagged to stand up and manage the soon-to-be shelter space.

The hotel has 91 fully furnished rooms, which would potentially house 120 emergency shelter beds until 2023. After that, the hope is to then have 80 units shift to permanent affordable housing for those making under 50% of the region’s median income.

The final price tag for buying the hotel would total roughly $10.5 million, with funds not covered by the City of Tacoma likely to come from Pierce County and the state. A purchase agreement with LIHI mandates that adequate funds must be raised by Oct. 29, 2021.

King County reducing shelter concentrations, moving people to hotels

Overall, hotel spaces have seen a measure of success in Seattle in housing the city’s homeless, where LIHI helps manage two enhanced shelter locations — one at Belltown’s Kings Inn, and the other at the Executive Hotel Pacific. In 2021, the King County plans to buy a series of hotels to permanently house up to 45% of its homeless population. Recent efforts tracked by University of Washington researchers found that homeless individuals living in King County hotels saw across-the-board improvements to their lives.

The strategy has also faced its fair share of pushback, though, including when homeless residents of a Renton hotel were evicted following a series of complaints from neighbors. King County has since purchased a separate hotel shelter space in Renton as part of a collaboration with city leaders.

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