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City Authorized Emergency Shelter Sites

City Authorized Emergency Shelter Sites

City Authorized Emergency Shelter sites are permitted under the Declaration of State of Public Health Emergency. The City contracts with experienced emergency shelter providers to operate the sites, which include basic amenities, fencing, shelter, hand washing stations, garbage services, bathroom facilities, electricity and potable water. 

City-Authorized Emergency Shelter Sites provide a safer alternative to unauthorized encampments. At these sites couples are allowed to stay together and pets are allowed at some locations. Drugs and alcohol are not permitted onsite. 


For 2021-2022, we have allocated $7.6M to operate authorized encampments in Tacoma. Our funding sources include Federal HUD Funding (ESG CV-2 and CDBG/ESG), Washington State Department of Commerce, CARES Act, Mental Health Substance Use Disorder Sales Tax and General Fund.


The cost to operate authorized encampments is typically higher than traditional sheltering models because the level of services vary from standard shelter models. Authorized encampments offer non-congregate sheltering where individuals or family units have their own designated shelter unit assigned to them for the duration of their residency. The sites are also open 24-hours and community services and case management services are available on-site. On-site supportive services are included as part of the overall operating cost.


View our most recent client outcomes.

Assessing Options for Additional Authorized Encampments

Given the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the reality that existing shelter models in our community may not be accessible or desirable to all in need of safe sheltering, we are evaluating additional opportunities to mitigate public health and safety risks caused by unauthorized encampments.


We have conducted an analysis of all properties owned or controlled by the City to determine the feasibility of establishing mitigation/stabilization services for people living outdoors in our community. Staff presented the property assessment to City Council during Study Session meetings on March 30, 2021 and April 6, 2021


Based on feedback staff received from City Council during the Study Session meetings, we are consulting internal and external experts and collecting community questions and ideas to evaluate possible service models that could be implemented at either of the following locations:

  • S 69th and Proctor Street
  • 36th and Madison Street

No decision has been made to move forward with either location. Should we find a service model that is both possible for us to implement, meets the needs of people currently living outdoors and can be supported by the broader community, we will conduct listening sessions to share the details of any proposed service models and collect community feedback. 

To stay updated on our emergency shelters, potential development of new sites or engagement opportunities, join our email listserv. You can also share your feedback and ideas with us directly by email.


Tacoma Emergency Micro-Shelter (TEMS) Site-6th Ave and Orchard St

The City is working with First Christian Church to lease part of their property at 602 North Orchard Street to develop an emergency micro-shelter site in partnership with the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI). It is anticipated that the site will be ready by the end of 2020 and operational until July 2023.


The site will provide:

  • 40 shelter units, serving up to 60 individuals
  • Facilities for restrooms, shower and laundry
  • Communal kitchen and space for resident meetings
  • Case management services to residents
  • The property will be fenced and 24-hour on-site management and security will be provided by LIHI 

All site residents agree to and follow a code of conduct, which outlines site policies and expectations.


The cost to set-up the site is expected to cost $615,000 and will cost $1.9 million in operations from December 2020 through June 2023. This project was funded using Washington State Department of Commerce Emergency Shelter grant funds.


Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

Community members are invited to join the Community Advisory Committee, which meets monthly to review operations and progress of the site, address questions, concerns and ideas from the public, and provide advisory input. 


Upcoming Meetings:

The CAC meets the second Wednesday of every month at 6:00 P.M. 

For more information or questions about the CAC, please contact Josh Castle at (206) 334-0508.


Past meeting minutes:

TEMS Virtual Community Meeting

We held a community meeting on October 7, 2020 to listen to concerns and provide answers to questions.


To view the frequently asked questions from the meeting, click here


A full list of attendee questions and comments can be viewed here.


Tacoma Emergency Micro-Shelters (TEMS) Site - 60th and McKinley

The City of Tacoma partnered with Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) and the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI) to relocate and expand the Tacoma Emergency Micro Shelter Site at 802 MLK Jr Way to a THA owned property located at 60th and McKinley through 2021.

The site provides:
  • 50 shelter units, serving up to 65 individuals
  • Basic human amenities including restrooms, garbage services, handwashing stations and drinking water. 
  • The property is fenced and has 24-hour security with on-site management provided by the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI)

The total cost of the site set-up and operations, including the expanded capacity from 35 to 65 individuals is approximately $1 million for 2020.  Anticipated operations costs for 2021 are approximately $700,000, which will be paid using Federal Emergency Solutions Grant funds.


TEMS Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

Community members are invited to join the Community Advisory Committee, which meets monthly to review operations and progress of the site, address questions, concerns and ideas from the public, and provide advisory input. 


Meetings are held virtually the second Monday of the month from 6 to 7:30 P.M.


Join the meeting here or by phone at (253) 215-8782. The meeting passcode is 825-8159-3484. 


Past meeting minutes:

For questions about the CAC, please contact Josh Castle.


TEMS T-Town Hall Meeting 

The City hosted a virtual town hall on June 4, 2020 to provide residents with more details about the project and hear questions and concerns. View the full town hall below in English or Spanish.



Due to the volume of questions, staff consolidated questions that were similar and provided answers.  To view questions and answers from the Town Hall, please click here.


To see the questions and comments as submitted by meeting attendees, please click here.


More information about LIHI micro-shelter operations can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions


Stability Site - 1421 Puyallup Avenue

The City partners with Catholic Community Services (CCS) to operate a low-barrier emergency shelter at 1421 Puyallup Avenue on City owned property. The Stability Site was established in June 2017 in response to the Public Health State of Emergency on Homelessness and growing unauthorized encampments in the surrounding area.


The site provides:

  • 58 shelter units, serving up to 100 individuals
  • Basic human amenities including restrooms, garbage services, handwashing stations and drinking water
  • Case management services
  • Access to food and other supportive services including temporary employment

In 2017, set-up of the Stability Site cost $900,000 and ongoing operations cost approximately $248,000 per month for the 2017-2018 biennium.


Initially, the site contained individual tents inside of a larger temperature controlled structure with individual pallet shelters located outside the structure. In spring 2020, the City improved the site by replacing all tents with pallet shelters and moving all shelters into the temperature controlled structure. Streamlining operations has also helped reduce expenses.


For 2021-2022, we expect to spend $3.6 million using General Fund and Mental Health Substance Use Disorder Sales Tax funds.


To volunteer or to donate to the Stability Site, contact Shannon Cline


Former Tacoma Emergency Micro Shelter-802 MLK Jr Way

The City of Tacoma established an emergency micro-shelter (TEMS) site at 802 Martin Luther King Junior Way from December 2019 through July 2020 in response to the health and safety concerns caused by the growing encampment at People's Park.


The site provided:

  • 22 Emergency Micro Shelters, serving up to 35 individuals
  • Basic human amenities including portable toilets, garbage services, hand washing stations and drinking water
  • Perimeter fencing and 24-hour security with on-site management provided by the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI)

Initial set-up for the site cost $250,000 and operations totaled $344,000 from December 2019 through June 2020.  This site was funded through use of the City’s General Fund and Mental Health Substance Use Disorder sales tax revenue.


To view our final report of resident housing outcomes for this site, click here.


Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

The TEMS site established a CAC to support site operations and troubleshoot any issues in the surrounding neighborhood while the site operated. Committee members included neighbors, service providers, and other community stakeholders. Learn more about how the CAC supported the site in the meeting details below:

Community Meeting Information

Prior to launching, a public meeting was hosted on December 4, 2019 by the City and its partner. Below are materials and resources shared at the meeting:

Contact Us

Allyson Griffith

NCS Assistant Director


(253) 591-5119