Pierce County expected to allocate $22.3M for village-like shelter

A homeless shelter that acts as a village is being pitched to the Pierce County Council for $22.3 million in allocated funds.

The village would be modeled after a community in Austin, Texas, called Community First! Village. The proposed village in Pierce County would be built on 86 wooded acres near the Cross-Base Highway and Spanaway Loop Road. The village itself would cover 27 acres, with the remainder being forested open space.

“I was very excited to see the success of Community First! in Austin helping those trapped on the streets with addiction and untreated mental illness,” Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier said in a statement. “This proposal provides our most vulnerable with a chance for hope and a home ... and our community with a solution they can believe in.”

The village is expected to house 257 formerly homeless people when built, according to the county. The village would include support services, healthcare, community gathering spaces and microenterprises. 

Notably, residents would be expected to pay rent and contribute to the overall community. Along with guidelines in place for residents, a surveillance system and a controlled gate would be constructed. There would be 24/7 monitoring of the village grounds and the county expects up to 28 residents of the village to volunteer to aid staff in security.

The Tacoma Rescue Mission has worked with homeless people in Pierce County for more than 100 years, according to the mission’s executive director, Duke Paulson. The mission has already purchased the 86 acres of land for village construction.

According to the county, the council is expected to consider and vote on releasing the $22.3 million that was previously allocated in the current biennial budget for the village “in the near future.”

With an expected vote in favor of the proposed village, a comprehensive engagement and outreach effort will be launched to provide more details for neighborhoods on the perimeter of the site and surrounding community.


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