Presentation Minutes

City of Tacoma Update

  • Linda Stewart – Director, Neighborhood and Community Services -
  • We manage all human services for City, and code compliance, and neighborhood engagement
  • City funds services – like Rebuilding Hope – over $100 flowing into those programs (Linda must have said the real number, but I missed it. Sorry about that.  But I think it is safe to say my “over $100” is accurate, but not particularly informative. –ed).  In the competitive process, we hope to have additional funding for housing program areas.
  • Accountability – City Council priority is homelessness. Councilmember Ushka addressed law and justice around the myth that all individuals experiencing homelessness are Mental Health and Substance Use challenged.  It is our responsibility to myth bust – with members from the law enforcement and judicial committee – to talk about what they are seeing, what they think is happening, and what is actually happening.
  • I’m here to talk about what is happening right now.  You heard me talk about actions coming to the Council on November 19th.  I brought copies of City Council  agenda from the 19th.  Council will also hear them at the study session and will be discussed at the City Council Meeting.
    • Resolution – for Low Income Housing Institute for $388,000 to operate a temporary emergency shelter site on 8th and MLK.  We are bringing this forward to alleviate issues at People’s Park.  If you’ve been around People’s park, you’ve observed some of the misery there.  We’ve been trying to mitigate the impacts for the people there.  We activated the Medical Reserve Corp to provide immediate medical assistance and assessment – they are at the park right now  and will go weekly while there are people living in the park.  Put porta-pottys, hand washing there, as well as garbage cleanup.  Working with community to establish relationships, and trust is being built.  Of the 35 individuals, 27 are engaged in services – thinking about a housing plan, or on a list to get in housing.  They have built a trust relationship.  We anticipate being able to transition 35 to the 8th and MLK site.  We have served 310 individuals at the stability site – 115 have been housed.  We are at a 39% housed rate.  We are looking at the same model at the micro shelter site at MLK.  Will approve on Tuesday Night. 
    • Ordinance to amend the zoning laws.  Instead of requiring a minimum space of 7,500 ft2 – we’ll change it to match the number of individuals per person – 150 ft2 per person.  Change the minimum so folks looking at the code will be able to do one family, or 2 people.  We have tried to communicate that we were flexible on the rules – but people read the rule an thought It was the rule (being a bit of a rule follower myself, I can understand that. –ed).
    • Also changed (I wrote changed, but I suspect she actually said clarified and I just jotted it down wrong -ed) the “no more than  2 shelter sites per police sector” rule. We don’t want to limit the number of sites, but the number of people sheltered to 150 in each police sector.  We can then do shelter for 600 people. 
    • There are “clarifying amendments” – it does not require the formal review for public comment  that takes months to accomplish.  We wanted to make these changes (clarifications –ed) very quickly – so the folks coming to the convening table – Metropolitan Development Council, Associated Ministries and Tacoma Ministerial Alliance – can have the new ( –ed) rules.  Maybe there are additional locations we can look at. 
    • Extending emergency ordinance till 95% of Point in Time count number unsheltered have shelter. Proposing recommendation to extend emergency declaration.  According to the City Manager, Elizabeth Pauli -  extending 1 year at a time isn’t representative of where we are.  We need to extend it till we have open capacity for 95% of people who are unsheltered (I don’t think I got this phrasing right – sorry about that.-ed).  The data we want to use in for a period of 3 years.  If, 3 years from now, we’ve had access to shelter for 95% of Point in Time count clients, we may consider the emergency declaration over.  Until then, we won’t consider the emergency is over.  Those are coming at study session at noon in TMB room 16.  There is a listening session where you can observe at noon.  You cannot give public comment at study session. They are on the agenda on Tuesday night, so you can provide public comment on them at that meeting.  You can arrive early and sign up to speak.  
  • Greg – the temporary shelter ordinance changes (clarifications –ed) – as I read this – the proposed change still has the 1 mile distance between shelters – but you have the discretion to waive that determination.  Linda – the code is administered under the planning director – it is the planning department that would  consider the waiver.
  • Emily – I’m wondering if the new Low Income Housing Institute village will be low barrier, and what does that mean.  Linda – yes, low barrier – access to housing and we offer services and assistance and whatever we want to  work on outside of shelter- drug and alcohol, ,medical, etc.  Will take animals.  One reason folks don’t go into shelter is the pets.  24x7 staffed site – fenced, primary reason is to provide alternate for folks in People’s Park – close to where there community is.  It is a good chance to test the tiny house model.
  • Kelly – we are building temporary shelter for folks in people park, but cutting the Stability site beds by 27?  Linda – these are temporary shelters – 6 to 8 months – now and very soon, we’ll identify new shelters.  We anticipate being able to relocate to another micro-shelter site.  As we stand this up, we have invested 1.6M in beds at the Rescue mission – in March. The warehouse is being converted as we speak.  Bethlehem Baptist is bringing on 40 beds.  Altheimer Church is in the permitting process – 32 beds.  The Stability Site, is scaling back units – however we anticipate with this convening – to get folks like all of you, other service providers, other stakeholders, in the room together, to identify other spots for shelter in phases – to make space available for people who want shelter.
  • Al – thanks for all you are doing – there was a time when the City wasn’t enthusiastic about his.  Why chose vendor from out of town?  Were there local applicants?  Linda – we were directed by our Mayor and Council to find a spot for this operator.  Bethlehem Baptist – don’t’ have an operator – they are struggling to find people to operate shelter.  This is a way we can test a model – a tested model elsewhere – don’t know if it will work tomorrow.  It is 6 to 8 months – for a reason.  We want to make sure this is a fit for Tacoma.  Integrated in – service provided by local service providers – looking at a mix of people who haven’t been at the table as service providers – I’m intentional in laying their work as service providers.  Our community doesn’t always like people coming from the outside.
  • Theresa – Just in terms of the 24x7 – that is a huge cost for any kind of shelter – have you looked at self-governing models?  Linda – that isn’t this site – but we will work on that in the future. 
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