Tents within a tent: Tacoma's new outdoor homeless shelter | KUOW News and Information

Tents within a tent: Tacoma's new outdoor homeless shelter

Jun 15, 2017

Showers, bathrooms, personal storage, outreach and community services will all be available to some 65 residents of a new outdoor shelter in Tacoma that opens in a couple of weeks.

The city is preparing the property at Portland Avenue East and Puyallup Avenue, on a newly resurfaced parking lot of an old warehouse.

Tacoma Fire Department Deputy Chief Tory Green said the temperature-controlled tent will hold private tents inside for individuals and couples. 

"It's not exactly a tent city - but it's a series of tents within one 70-foot-long tent with 28-foot-high ceilings," he said.

When it opens at the end of the month, the outdoor shelter will have air conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter, bathrooms and showers.

The first residents are already living on land dubbed "The Compound," a community of tents and temporary structures set up by the city of Tacoma on Portland Avenue as part of its emergency homeless plan. That space will close when the new shelter opens.

Green said space will be provided in the shelter for people who may not have a place to live because of substance abuse or mental health issues, but others experiencing homelessness will be welcome, too.

"We're also thinking about the people who are still working 40 hours a week who are living in their car because they lost their home. And so we're trying to be comprehensive about how we approach the services we provide," Green said. 

The city of Tacoma is spending just over $2 million on the project, which is funded at least through the end of the year. It's the second phase of the city's emergency homeless plan.