Town of Lakewood announcement.
Lakewood, Washington – The Comfort Inn near 84th and Hosmer in Tacoma will soon reopen as a homeless shelter. Residents were able to ask questions about the shelter’s operations at a community-based question-and-answer event on Monday, November 22, hosted by Safe Streets Tacoma and the Low Income Housing Institute.
The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) purchased the hotel in October with funds from Pierce County, Town of Tacoma and Town of Lakewood. LIHI will manage the day-to-day operations of the shelter. LIHI has already converted several other hotels into shelters and operates several villages of small houses and “urban rest areas”.
“We believe we can end homelessness for hundreds of people. It’s not magic, it’s hard work, but we have dedicated staff who work household by household to increase their independence and get out of homelessness.
Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute
Residents of Lakewood and Tacoma have expressed questions and concerns about the hotel, primarily regarding the effects on the neighborhood and entry conditions.
Lee said the facility is committed to being a “good neighbor” and has started forming a community advisory committee to liaise with the neighborhood. The facility will have video surveillance, full-time staff, perimeter controls and rules prohibiting loitering, trespassing and other illegal activity. Lee also said earlier hotel conversions have become community assets – by sheltering homeless people in the area, nuisance and neighborhood crime have declined.
The occupants will stay at the shelter for 3 to 6 months. Occupants must accept and respect a code of conduct throughout their stay. The code of conduct covers violence, substance use, safety, cleanliness, case management and other rules. Failure to comply with the code of conduct may result in expulsion.
Each occupant of the shelter will benefit from individual case management. The goal of the facility is to be a “bridge”, and for the occupants to eventually obtain permanent housing and make progress towards independence.
LIHI measures success by “positive moves”, or residents who leave with permanent housing. Other nearby LIHI-run shelters have recorded more than 70 positive moves since October, with one facility approaching a 70% positive move rate. LIHI introduced Tabitha, a former resident of one of their small home villages. She now works full time, owns a car and rents her own apartment.
“When I walked into the mini-houses, the first thing I wanted to do was take a shower… Being homeless, I felt like I would never have a dirty job all the time. Soon after I got to the mini-homes, my case manager helped me with my resume and I got a part-time job. It was great to be able to shower every day for work, and to have a safe place to sleep and leave my few things while I was at work.
Tabitha, former resident of a small family village in LIHI