YWCA Tacoma ready to start construction on badly needed affordable housing project

YWCA Pierce County is expected to break ground next month on a long-awaited project that will help address a lack of affordable housing in Tacoma.

The $23 million construction project is set to serve victims of domestic violence on a lot owned by the YWCA across from its building at 405 Broadway.

The ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for 10 a.m., July 20, with construction to begin in mid-August. The building is set for completion late next year.

YWCA Pierce County CEO Miriam Barnett sees it as a much-needed completion to its Tacoma campus.

“I am very committed to finishing the vision,” she said.

That vision for her, Barnett said, started in 2008.

“At that point, I came to realize we had gaps in clients finding housing, so the best way was to build it ourselves,” she said.

According to an August 2016 needs assessment report from the city:

▪ One in four children in Tacoma live in poverty, higher than other surrounding communities.
▪ 25 percent of homeless are younger than 18.
▪ Domestic violence rates are higher in Tacoma than the state itself.
▪ 28 percent of homeless people also were victims of domestic violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline last year also saw a 36 percent increase in calls, online chats and texts compared with the previous year.

Amid rising housing costs, the lack of affordable housing in the city has become more acute, culminating in last year’s Affordable Housing Action Strategy for the city.

One of the recommendations was to “create a range of resources for households experiencing a housing crisis” and noted priorities can be created for the most vulnerable in the community, including domestic violence victims.

“Service providers who served survivors of domestic violence noted the importance of building mutual trust and a need to have housing available throughout the entire city,” according to the Action Strategy.

The YWCA project is listed in the report among several recent local investments to that end.

The apartment complex will include 55 units (one of them for on-site management) and includes:

▪ 10 studio apartments at an approximate average size of 300 square feet, renting between $392-$653 per month.
▪ 16 one-bedroom units at 450-500 square feet at $420-$700.
▪ 19 two-bedroom units averaging 750 square feet at $504-$840.
▪ Nine three-bedroom units averaging 950 square feet renting at $582-$970.

There are 30 of the units tied to housing vouchers, according to project plans.

The project allocates 75 percent of the apartments to serve homeless families and 25 percent designated for low-income families with disabilities or other barriers to permanent housing.

Read the rest of the article in the Tacoma News Tribune.

SSF teamed with SMR Architects and the YWCA Pierce County on this project.

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