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Congressman Denny Heck

Representing the 10th District of Washington

Shelter offers Tacoma homeless youth 'safe place' to stay

Aug 15, 2016
In The News

**Click on link to view video

The young and homeless in Tacoma come to McCormick Park during the day.

"This is a place where we go to get rest," said 23-year-old Tomica White, who has been homeless since she was 11.

For White, it is not a place she can stay at night.

"As far as laying here by yourself if you're a woman -- not so good."

At night she goes down the street to the youth homeless shelter in Tacoma that opened in December of 2015.

"This is a safe place."

Tomica and nearly 200 young people have gone to the shelter for the short time that it has been open.

“Right now we’re looking for a permanent location for the shelter and a day center,” said Kurt Miller, Executive Director of Community Youth Services, Pierce County.

Miller says those who work at the shelter have been able to place 33 young people into permanent housing. In 30 days, seven of those people including Tomica will get keys to their own apartment.

“Tacoma Housing Authority has provided $288,000 for the last four years to provide housing for young adults and that is money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” said Miller.

Once Tomica gets housing, she’ll have to find a job and she’ll use 30 percent of her salary to pay for the rent.

“I can imagine holding my own keys. I don't care if there is any furniture in there or not. I just want to go in there but the key through the door drop by backpack and just lay in the middle of my own living room floor and just breathe. It's going to be incredible."

She worked with a local program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Money that will help her pay rent for her own apartment.

“We need to let HUD know why this matter and why we need more funding,” said Miller, who brought White to a discussion Monday with Julian Castro, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

“Hud is committed to ending youth homelessness by 2020 but we have more work to do,” said Castro, who said several cities around the country could expect an announcement around additional funding to help homeless families.