Tacoma nonprofits, housing services win big in capital budget

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A $2.5 million grant from the state capital budget has catapulted Tacoma Community House’s new building project that makes possible the expansion of job-placement services for immigrant and refugee populations.

The $4.2 billion 2017-18 state capital budget signed by Governor Jay Inslee on Jan. 19 is delivering more than $47 million in funding to the 27th Legislative District, representing much of Tacoma, helping social service organizations, the arts, healthcare providers, and universities and community and technical colleges to grow programs and bolster infrastructure.

“Every time I look at projects that are funded in Tacoma, I get really excited about it,” said House Democrat Representative Laurie Jinkins, 27th District. “Jeannie Darneille, Jake Fey and I work really hard together to make sure that we get as much funding as we can for our district.”

In the neighboring 29th District, which represents parts of south Tacoma, Tacoma Community College received $1.6 million for repairs, maintenance, and minor work.

In the 27th District, organizations receiving funding include Tacoma Community House, Tacoma Housing Authority, Peace Community Center, and education centers: UW-Tacoma and Bates Technical College.

Jinkins and Dunbar

Tacoma Community House, now in its 108th year of serving the immigrant and refugee population, will receive a $2.5 million Building Communities Fund Grant, allocated in the capital budget, to go toward a $12.8 million budgeted 27,000-square foot building on its property at 1314 S. L St. in the Hilltop neighborhood.

“We are staying here with our new building,” said Liz Dunbar, executive director of TCH. “Over the last 20 years, we have acquired all the property on the block. We will double our space. The existing building will be demolished for parking. Our goal is to break ground this summer.”

The $2.5 million grant is something TCH was counting on since capital budget negotiations started last July.

“It’s a key piece to our financial planning to this building,” Dunbar said.

With the $2.5 million, TCH has now surpassed 60 percent of its budget goal, enabling it to apply for a significant grant from a larger private organization. Last November, the nonprofit received a $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation.

Dave Wright, a TCH board member, as well as director for spiritual life and civic engagement and university chaplain at University of Puget Sound, said the board was waiting anxiously for the state to come through.

“We were very exuberant to hear the news,” Wright said. “It will be nice to have a new building. It will literally change the whole block.”

The new building will help TCH serve more people and expand its services, which include education and job-placement services, immigration services and crime victim advocacy.

“We (currently) have very inadequate space,” Dunbar said. “This will allow us to grow our services over time.”

Meanwhile, Tacoma Housing Authority is grateful for a $3 million Housing Trust Fund grant from the state to contribute to a $23 million housing for homeless youth and young-adult campus called Arlington Drive, planned for a 3.5-acre lot at the corner of South 38th Street and Portland Avenue. The City of Tacoma, Pierce County, and THA are contributing to the overall budget. THA Executive Director Michael Mirra said the majority of funds will derive from private sources: tax credit investor equity and commercial debt.

“This campus will be a major step forward in addressing a growing crisis of homelessness among youth in Pierce County and the Puget Sound region,” Mirra said. “These young people are not in school, not working, not in a hospital, not in jail, and without a home. They have fallen off the radar, in many cases, into a life of prostitution, trafficking, and drug addiction. This campus will give them a second chance at a reasonable adolescence, an education, a job, and a self-sufficient adulthood without fear. This campus will be a chance for Pierce County to show how to do this hard work right and at scale.”

The campus is anticipated to serve more than 500 youth ages 12-17 annually with the 12-bed Crisis Residential Center. In addition, the campus will provide 40-60 apartments to rent for homeless young adults ages 18-24. THA will provide rental assistance during their stay and a housing voucher to help them find new housing when they leave. Social enterprises for job training will be provided.

Peace Community Center, which provides educational support to youth in the Hilltop neighborhood, received $330,000 in state funding to contribute to $1.5 million in renovations of classroom space, a commercial kitchen to serve more than 100 meals daily, community area and student computer lab renovations, and a new 1,200-square-foot office wing to improve staff collaboration. The $1.5 million in renovations is part of the broader Hilltop: Where Scholars Grow Campaign, valued at more than $2.3 million. To date, $2.2 million in community support has been raised.

“Peace Community Center is thrilled to have the state support to help expand opportunities for Hilltop students,” said Jay Thomas, executive director of Peace Community Center. “This grant is significant for our community, and we extend sincere appreciation to our senators, representatives and neighbors for joining with us on such a special project.”

Other winners in the state capital budget for Tacoma include:

  • UW-Tacoma, which will receive $500,000 to support predesign work for its next academic building that will accommodate growth for up to 800 full-time students and expand high-demand degree programs; and $1 million for ongoing soil remediation after historic contamination left chemicals from commercial degreasers, oil, and fuel in soil and groundwater
  • Bates Technical College will receive $3.2 million for its Medical Mile Health Science Center
  • MultiCare Franciscan Joint Venture will receive $3 million for development of a behavioral health center
  • Tacoma’s Historic Theater District will receive $1 million
  • More than $24 million for the ASARCO Cleanup
  • A $560,000 Heritage Capital Grant for the Foss Waterway Seaport
  • A $1 million grant to the Benaroya building expansion for the Tacoma Art Museum

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