Affordable housing units now in downtown


Tacoma Housing Authority (THA), Pioneer Human Services (PHS) and Korean Women’s Association (KWA) have announces the funding of 61 affordable housing units in downtown Tacoma. Thirteen of these apartments will be in PHS’s property, Rialto Apartments on 311 S. 9th St., and 48 of these apartments will be in KWA’s Olympus Hotel on 815 S. Pacific Avenue.

This partnership will preserve these affordable units amid the shrinking downtown options for low-income households. This effort not only preserves affordable housing but also protects the Olympus Hotel as a historic building.

THA issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on Aug. 6. The RFP offered rental subsidies to market rate and nonprofit owners of housing who would agree to then rent some of their apartments to households with low incomes. The RFP offered two types of rental subsidies: project-based vouchers and property-based subsidies. KWA and PHS applied for the project-based voucher subsidy.

Based Voucher is a federal housing subsidy program. Under this program, THA and a property owner negotiate a long-term contract. THA would pay housing subsidies for units occupied by qualified tenants. Tenant rents are based on tenant incomes. THA pays a subsidy to cover the remaining balance of the rent each month up to the fair market value. These subsidies are “attached” to the unit and benefit each qualified tenant that moves into that unit. The subsidy gives the property a fair market income stream. This allows the owner to maintain the property, offer services and provide for a net return.

THA’s RFP is a continuing invitation for proposals from market rate and nonprofit owners of housing for use of THA’s rental subsidies. For information about the RFP, go

Korean Women’s Association (KWA) will reserve 48 units at the Olympus Hotel on 815 S. Pacific Ave. for low- income families. Half of these will serve families at 60 percent of the area median income and another half to lower incomes. The THA rental subsidy will allow KWA to dedicate more case management time to help people with education and employment programs. The vouchers will also invest more money into revitalizing the Olympus Hotel.

“The Board of Trustees and senior staff at KWA share a strong sense of pride in our role in saving the historic Olympus Hotel, especially given that in doing so, we created affordable housing downtown,” said KWA Executive Director Troy Christensen. “These vouchers will now allow us to invest further in the property, but also in current and future tenants in the building. This is a big win for everyone involved, including our diverse and vibrant community.”

Using THA rental subsidies, Pioneer Human Services will reserve 13 units at the Rialto Apartments on 311 S. 9th St. for tenants with income below 50 percent area median income. Affordable housing also allows these households to focus on their personal and financial well-being and get the tools they need to be self-sufficient.

Joseph Nagel, Pioneer’s director of Service Enriched Housing stated, “Pioneer is so grateful that the Tacoma Housing Authority provided the opportunity to preserve affordable housing in the Tacoma community and reduce the financial burden for our low-income households at the Rialto apartments. Thank you THA!”

“THA’s main job is to provide or finance affordable housing for Tacoma residents who need help to afford a home. One way we do this work is to partner with market rate or nonprofit owners of housing” said THA Executive Director Michael Mirra, “This partnership with KWA and Pioneer is a good example. In these cases, the  partnerships with KWA and Pioneer Human Services not only preserve affordability, it also does so in Downtown Tacoma, which needs more affordable places to live. They combine our housing dollars with services. And they help preserve an important historic building. All this makes for a good use of a scarce THA housing dollar.”

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