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Temporary Shelters

Religious organizations and non-profits can use property owned or controlled by them to host temporary shelters for up to 100 adults (age 18 and older) in Tacoma for up to 185 consecutive days.


The size of the camp is determined by the space available and resources, such as the number of toilets, handwashing stations and showers.


The sponsoring organization will have to go through a permitting process, which includes creating a plan for meeting safety, health and basic needs requirements for people who live in the temporary shelter and meeting TMC 13.05, Land Use Permit Procedures.


To apply to host a temporary shelter, religious organizations will need to submit the following to the City’s Planning and Development Office for permitting:

  • The dates of the start and termination of the temporary shelter.
  • The maximum number of residents proposed
  • The location, including parcel number(s) and address(es)
  • The names of the managing agency or manager and sponsor
  • A site plan showing the following shall be prepared and reviewed by staff, which will make recommendations for best practices, including Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles
    • Property lines and dimensions
    • Location and type of fencing/screening planned for the space to meet the TMC requirements to fully enclose the temporary helter with a minimum six foot tall, site-obscuring fence
    • Location of all support tents and structures
    • Method for providing and location of potable water
    • Method of providing location of waste receptacles
    • Location of required sanitary stations
    • Locations of vehicular access and parking - Emergency Vehicles and Parking spaces
    • Locations of tents and dwelling s for each person - must meet Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Requirements
    • Entry and exit control points
    • Internal pathways, and access routes for emergency services
  • A statement from the sponsoring religious organization regarding its commitment to maintain liability insurance in types and amounts sufficient to cover the liability exposures inherent in the permitted activity during the existence of any sponsored temporary shelters.

Temporary shelters are prohibited in shoreline districts, critical areas and their buffers, and up to six camps are allowed within the city limits at any given time with no more than two in a police sector. An extension of up to 40 days can be given to a temporary shelter if an unexpected issue with relocation arises.


To determine if your site is right for a temporary shelter or to review all of the code requirements, please review Tacoma Municipal Code 13.06.630.


For more information on the land use regulatory aspect of the City of Tacoma's latest approach to addressing homelessness, visit the Emergency Temporary Shelters Regulations page.


For support getting started, contact Tiegan Tidball at (253) 573-2320 or ttidball@cityoftacoma.org.