The City of Tacoma and the Metropolitan Development Council (MDC) are collaborating to bring together faith-based organizations, community nonprofits, homeless advocates, people experiencing homelessness and interested community members to increase emergency shelter capacity and address homelessness in Tacoma.
“The purpose of these conversations is to engage those experiencing homelessness, partner organizations, and other interested residents in developing innovative solutions. Our goal is to work alongside these key community members to establish potential temporary shelter sites, identify resources to help implement and sustain these shelters, and identify a group to take the lead on organizing and coordinating volunteers and resources,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “This coordinated effort has been a long time in the making, and it is a critical component to addressing homelessness as a community.”
MDC will facilitate the meetings, the first of which will occur on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, and help with coordination of recommended actions that the City can consider for the 2021-2022 biennium.
“We are excited to partner with Associated Ministries and the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance to convene meetings to hear from stakeholders, including those in the community at large and those who are currently homeless, to help us find innovative ways to provide additional safe, warm, and dry shelter,” said MDC President and CEO Pamela Duncan.
Currently, Bethlehem Baptist Church has established an emergency temporary shelter under the City’s existing ordinance. The City is hoping that the convening will help other nonprofits and faith-based organizations use the ordinance to establish shelter beds.
“Bethlehem Baptist Church has stepped up and is currently providing 40 shelter beds for men, women and couples,” said Council Member Keith Blocker. “We want all of our community members to be able to access basic human amenities and have a safe space to stay. The City and community partners understand the urgent need for more shelter options in Tacoma.”
The City and its partners are aware of the need for community engagement throughout the process including outreach to neighbors of potential sites. Sites interested in establishing a temporary shelter under the Temporary Shelter Ordinance will go through the City’s permitting process, which requires a 30-day public comment period.
More information about the City’s Neighborhood and Community Services Department is available at cityoftacoma.org/NCS. More information about Metropolitan Development Council is available at mdc-hope.org.