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Affordable Housing & Homelessness

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What is affordable housing? What does homeless look like in our community?

Tumwater is a great place to live, work, and play. As community leaders, we want Tumwater to be a city for all people. 

The Mayor and City Council are exploring how to best address the needs of homeless youth, adults, and families, and those at risk of homelessness, as well as the prevention of homelessness. Equally important is expanding the availability of affordable housing in Tumwater.

Building on its work in the first half of 2018, the City Council agreed to undertake the following actions now to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing outlined in the Tumwater Homelessness and Affordable Housing Action PlanPDF file

Expanding Affordable Housing

Community Development Block Grant

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities.Every third year, the City of Tumwater receives funding from this program to support capital projects and public services.

In 2018, the City Council placed a priority on funding projects that support affordable housing initiatives in Tumwater and provide public services that serve low-income households, including job training, crime prevention, health services, services for homeless persons, substance abuse services, fair housing counseling, and education programs.

Nearly $900,000 was awarded to projects that support physical improvements and services for low-income individuals. Projects chosen for funding include:

  • Homes First – $457,630 for the purchase and renovation of affordable rental housing.

  • Union Gospel Mission – $237,244 for the preservation and enhancement of the existing 13 affordable housing units at Genesis Acres by converting them from septic systems to sewer.

  • Family Education and Support Services – $120,000 to support their move to the proposed Resilience Center.

  • Boys and Girls Club – $25,822 to support scholarships for participants

  • Catholic Community Services – $25,694 for the Community Kitchen

  • Interfaith Works – $32,236 for the Community Care Center

  • TOGETHER! – $92,699 for support of the Community Schools Initiative.

Services and activities are provided by organizations located in or locating to Tumwater, or that primarily serve residents of Tumwater.

The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.

Community Human Services Program

Funds are set aside each year to support human services organizations that provide necessary aid for Tumwater residents who are vulnerable, low-income, or disadvantaged. The City of Tumwater participates in a regional approach through the Thurston County Health and Human Services Council (HHSC) by way of the Community Investment Partnership (CIP) program. 

The City also sets aside funds for agencies providing a direct benefit to Tumwater residents that may not qualify for funds through the regional approach. These funds are distributed through the Community Human Services Program (CHSP).

For 2019, the City has awarded $15,0000 through the Community Human Services Program in support of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of SW Washington, Dispute Resolution Center, Family Support Center of South Sound, Garden-Raised Bounty, and the Tumwater Education Foundation.

The City has also provided funding to these non-profit organizations and community partners:

  • Together!  –  $25,000 for the school diversion project

  • Salvation Army  –  $25,000 for the 24-hour shelter

  • Regional Human Services programs - $25,0000

Tumwater Homelessness and Affordable Housing Action Plan Goals

Goal:  Reduce Homelessness

Increase resources, actions to combat, decrease regional homelessness

  1. Review, and clarify as necessary, policies related to homelessness for first responders
  2. Develop strategies with the Tumwater School District and nonprofit partners to house homeless students / families
  3. Better understand and describe the extent and general location of Tumwater poverty and low-income areas
  4. Commit more current City resources to targeted regional homelessness actions
  5. Act to better connect people to services
  6. Continue to participate in homeless count each year
  7. Meet with Tumwater faith leaders to explore faith community’s potential role addressing homelessness
  8. Assess and track homeless / low-income services in Tumwater

Goal:  Boost Housing Affordability

Actions to increase affordable housing

  1. Pursue grants for affordable housing
  2. Strengthen incentives for affordable housing within the Capitol Corridor and Brewery District and explore extending these incentives to the entire InterCity Transit #13 bus corridor
  3. Evaluate and, if necessary, propose amendments to City code and zoning to support smaller scale affordable housing in neighborhoods to offer a greater variety of housing options
  4. Promote actions property owners can take to increase affordable housing such as accessory dwelling units
  5. Participate in regional discussions to understand factors affecting housing affordability and what steps can be taken to mitigate new housing costs
  6. Assess actions for assuring mobile home parks continue to provide affordable housing toward a goal of property ownership by residents
  7. Encourage more housing development overall
  8. Encourage abandoned houses moving back into the active housing inventory
  9. Enact policies to protect tenants experiencing housing instability, which may include:
    • Review current eviction/renter protection policies, laws, and legal services and assess possible actions
    • Assess need for/knowledge of landlord-tenant conflict resolution services
    • Support renter resources (mediation, etc.)
  10. Inventory and track affordable housing units in Tumwater

Goal: Ongoing Regional Actions

Continue work with other jurisdictions and agencies to explore regional solutions to homelessness and affordable housing.

City Council 2018 Worksessions on Homelessness & Affordable Housing

At the second worksession of each month from January to April 2018, the Council held presentations and discussions related to housing and homelessness issues. Council worksession agendas and minutes are available online.

Community Survey: Homelessness & Housing

The City recently conducted a community survey to measure community awareness of homelessness in Tumwater. Survey results indicated that most residents see homelessness as a problem. Many survey participants said that helping people in need was a civic duty that benefits the community, and something should be done to help children and families.

Collaborative Approach

Consultant Paul Knox, Planning Manager Brad Medrud, and City staff are working with community partners, local agencies and interfaith organizations to provide the Council with information, resources, and activities to improve and expand housing solutions for low income and homeless residents in Tumwater. 

Studies, Plans and Municipal Code