Tacoma City Council weighs spending nearly $400K on micro-shelter village for homeless

TACOMA, Wash. - The city of Tacoma is considering investing nearly $400,000 in a temporary shelter village to help combat the homelessness crisis.

The city’s new tent ban will take effect Dec. 1. For the last few weeks, the city and other organizations have worked to find alternative shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Tuesday, the City Council plans to vote on giving $388,000 to the Low Income Housing Institute, a Seattle-based organization that builds and manages temporary shelters.

The plan is to construct the temporary shelters at 802 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

According to pamphlets passed out to neighbors, the lot would include 22 units, offering shelter to about 35 people. The area would include amenities like portable toilets, garbage services, hand-washing stations and drinking water. The property would be fenced and have 24-hour security, with on-site management.

“As long as it stays peaceful and they pick up after themselves, I see no problem with it,” said Dellan Dienstman.

Dienstman lives near where the shelters would be constructed. He says there have been problems in the past due to the homeless encampment at People’s Park a block away from his home.

“I've seen needles, terrible things happening around here. I don’t feel safe with all of this going on," he said.

Dienstman thinks adding some structure through a managed shelter community might help things get better, but not everyone agrees.

“I would be scared. I don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Jennifer Bullard.

Bullard lives right across the street from the proposed shelter.

Like Dienstman, Bullard said she’s also had issues before. She says one night someone came knocking on her window at 2 a.m., scaring her family.

Bullard says she is worried similar incidents might happen.

“I should be able to feel safe. My kids should be able to feel safe,” said Bullard.

The council will take public comment before voting at its Tuesday meeting.