Tacoma apartment complex to expand affordable housing for college students

TACOMA, Wash. – Affordable student housing is about to see a major expansion in the South Sound.

Tacoma Community College says it has teamed up with the Tacoma Housing Authority to help make sure students aren’t priced out of their homes.

The College Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) is already helping students and now the program is poised to help even more.

What used to be called the Tiki Apartments will soon be available for low-income students in Tacoma. Once renovations are complete 62 units will be offered first to homeless or near-homeless TCC students.

The students will pay about 400 bucks a month and Tacoma Housing will make up the rest plus utilities. It’s all an effort to keep students in class, and help they stay on their path to success.

“Some people get stuck in the cracks of society,” said Jason Jenkins, TCC student.

Jenkins says he was one of those who fell through the cracks: he spent decades as an addict and he also lived on the streets and in the margins.

“I was homeless, I was living in a tent,” he said. “No hopes, no dreams, no aspirations in life.”

But he was able to turn his life around and began studying at Tacoma Community College. He also a receives housing assistance from the Tacoma Housing Authority through TCC.

He says without housing assistance he would never be able to provide for his family and go to school at the same time.

“It gave me the opportunity to focus more on what I want to do with my life,” he said.

“It gives me a sense of security to know I have a place to sleep every night,” said TCC student Audrey Robinson who also gets assistance through CHAP.

She says thanks to the program she can spend more time with her grandson and study for a bright future.

Between the beginning of 2014 and September of 2016, 60-percent of students in the college housing assistance program, or chap, graduated or stayed enrolled at TCC. They also had a grade point average higher than those who didn’t receive housing assistance. So far 175 students have accepted rent assistance through chap.

Now that dozens of refurbished apartments are getting ready to house even more students, TCC believes it’s an opportunity to keep people from falling back into homelessness and move them on to the next phase of their lives.

“It gives them the ability to really concentrate on their studies so they can complete their program at Tacoma Community College,” said TCC President Ivan Harrell.

TCC is not in the business of managing the properties but it does help students apply for the housing vouchers.

Applications are open on select days in October and January. Homeless or near homeless students get priority attention. Find out more about CHAP at TCC by clicking here.