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Emergency Temporary Aid and Shelter Plan

City of Tacoma Extends Declaration of State of Public Health Emergency Through December 31, 2017

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017 the Tacoma City Council passed Ordinance No. 28457, which amends Ordinance 28430 to extend the sunset date of the declaration of public health emergency relating to the conditions of homeless encampments through December 31, 2017 and took effect immediately. 

 

The City Council also passed Ordinance No. 28458, which amended Chapter 8.12 of the Municipal Code, relating to Disorderly Conduct, to prohibit public property camping, by extending the sunset date from October 9, 2017, to December 31, 2017.

 

Staff provided an update on the Emergency Temporary Aid and Sheltering Plan to Council during the October 3 study session. The Presentation is available for review and the recording available on TV Tacoma’s web page.

 

City Council Reviews Conditions for the Declaration of Public Health Emergency

City staff provided a presentation on the Temporary Emergency Aid and Shelter Plan to City Council during their Study Session on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 to satisfy the requirement of Ordinance 28430, which declared a state of public health emergency relating to the conditions of homeless encampments. 

The Tacoma City Council reviewed the conditions that gave rise to the public health emergency to determine if conditions warrant keeping in place the extraordinary measures authorized in the declaration of public health emergency.

The presentation is available for review and the recording will be available after August 23, 2017 on TV Tacoma’s web page.

 

Council Approves Motion to Implement Two Non-Consecutive Mitigation Sites and One Stability Site 

The Tacoma City Council approved a motion on June 6, 2017 that accepted staff's recommendation to implement two non-consecutive mitigation sites and one stability site as part of the Temporary Emergency Aid and Shelter Plan for an investment of up to $3.4 million.

 

The City's investment will be funded through a combination of $1.2 million in realized savings from 2016 as well as $2.2 million from a sale of a Tacoma Rail Mountain Division Property.

 

To assist with siting the temporary emergency shelter, the City Council also passed Ordinance 28432, which adopted interim zoning and land use controls as an emergency measure to permit the City to site temporary emergency shelters in response to the declared emergency. For more information on the land use regulations, visit the Planning Services web page.

 

For additional information, view the June 6, 2017 Study Session Temporary Emergency Aid and Shelter Plan presentation.

 

City Declares a State of Public Health Emergency 

On May 9, 2017, the Tacoma City Council passed Ordinance 28430, declaring a state of public health emergency. The declaration was in response to the growing concentrations of people living in encampments in Tacoma. Encampments pose safety and health concerns for people living in them and around them as they create concerns about human waste, garbage, exposure to communicable diseases, exposure to violence and other human health concerns.

 

City Implements Three-Phased Emergency Temporary Aid and Sheltering Plan

To promptly address the health and safety of people the City is implementing the Emergency Temporary Aid and Sheltering Plan.

 

The plan will include three phases:

  • Phase 1: Would include the deployment of rapid resource pop-ups offering services to mitigate immediate health and safety issues in the encampments while reducing impacts on citizens and businesses.  This phase also involves enhanced enforcement efforts focused on illegal activities.
  • Phase 2: Would establish temporary transitional centers focused on managed shelter options and rapidly connecting individuals with services to enhance self-sustainability and connection with permanent housing.
  • Phase 3: This phase will involve exploring opportunities to expand homelessness services throughout the County. Data collection from Phase 1 and 2 will ultimately help inform the implementation of Phase 3.
Emergency Temporary Aid and Sheltering Program graphic

 

Detailed Descriptions of the Phases

 

Phase 1: Mitigation

Phase 1: Mitigation launched on May 8, 2017. 

 

Pop-ups will provide basic health amenities to reduce the impact on the surrounding community while the City’s Homeless Outreach Team provides resources and prepares encampment inhabitants for departure to the Temporary Transitional Centers and prepares the encampment for cleanup.

 

Pop-ups will provide people living in the encampment with:

  • Portable toilets
  • Handwashing Stations
  • Drinking Water
  • Garbage Service
  • 24-hour, seven days a week, Site Security

The City is planning for the pop-up to be on site for up to six weeks in four locations.

 

Enforcement

If people residing in the encampments choose to defecate, urinate or commit other civil or criminal law violations, the Tacoma Police Department will enforce laws regarding public and private property. 

 

As part of the enforcement, Tacoma Police are increasing their focus on narcotic sales, which are most often committed by people who do not live in the encampments, but are attracted to the encampments to prey on vulnerable people.

Phase 2: Temporary Transitional Centers

Phase 2: Temporary Transitional Centers is currently in the planning stages. 

 

Temporary Transitional Centers will be sites that will provide people who had been sleeping on the streets a place to sleep and receive social and health services to quickly get them permanent housing.


The Centers will be sited on vacant City-owned properties and will reduce the impacts of encampments on surrounding neighborhoods by centralizing service delivery, limiting occupancy and match the look of the surrounding community as much as possible.

 

Two Types of Sites 

Currently, two types of sites will be established. 

 

Stability Sites

Sites with low barrier entry requirements will provide services to individuals considered chronically homeless, people who are having mental health crises and people with substance use disorders. 

 

Services that will be offered:

  • Basic Human Health Amenities – food, showers, bathroom facilities, laundry, etc.
  • Social Services
  • Healthcare
  • Legal Services
  • Mental Health
  • Skill Training
  • Transportation

Transition Sites 

Sites with high barrier entry requirements will provide services people who need minimal assistance to be permanently housed such as families, recently housed individuals and individuals who are unemployed or underemployed.

 

Services that will be offered:

  • Basic Human Health Amenities – food, showers, bathroom facilities, laundry, etc.
  • Social Services
  • Healthcare
  • Housing Counselors
  • Legal Services
  • Skill Training
  • Mental Health 
  • Transportation

The City will consider site locations based on the anticipated needs of the centers.

Phase 3: Transitional and Short-Term to Permanent Housing Options

Phase 3: Transitional and Short-Term to Permanent Housing Options is currently in the planning stages. 

 

More transitional and permanent housing options for people are needed throughout Pierce County. Currently, the majority of shelter and human services for people experiencing homelessness are located in Tacoma.

 

People experience homelessness in every community and they should be able to receive support and services in the community they are from to provide more rapid stabilization. According to Pierce County’s 2017 Point in Time Count, almost 80 percent of the people who are homeless had lived in Pierce County for one year or longer before becoming homeless. To address this need, the City is working toward solutions that could be deployed throughout Pierce County and will be engaging in discussions with the county and surrounding jurisdictions about how they plan to address homelessness in their communities.

 

Want to Help?

Here are some suggested ways to help. 

  • Consider donating to or volunteering with a homeless service provider.
  • Consider supporting Metro Parks Tacoma’s Free USDA Summer Food Program for Children.
  • Advocate for more federal, state and local funding for services.
  • Do not give people who are experiencing homelessness money. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary of Terms 

Want more information? View the Frequently Asked Questions web page or the City of Tacoma's Glossary of Terms for the Emergency Aid and Shelter Plan.