In a joint effort between the Tacoma Housing Authority and local real estate developers — with input from the Associated Students of UW Tacoma and UWT administration — half of the 104 new microapartments being built across from the University Y will be reserved and prioritized for UWT students who currently face housing insecurities. This deal comes as members of ASUWT work to decrease the number of students facing housing insecurity.
In addition to the new 52 microapartments, the THA has pledged to fund $1 million to help with ASUWT’s student homelessness project. The 2015 Point in Time survey revealed that roughly 360 UWT students — 8 percent of the student population — were homeless, while another 14 percent faced housing insecurities such as ‘couch surfing’ or living in their car. Since then, the number has only increased. ASUWT Legislative Liaison Adán Espino, Jr., who helped mediate the deal, talked about the importance of the project for UWT students and how the THA helps students secure housing.
“There is a surprisingly significant number of students who are facing homelessness or housing insecurities right now,” Espino said. “This benefits those students who are most in need. With this deal, the THA buys down affordability for a unit. Basically, if a unit costed $1000 a month to rent, affordability for whoever is going to be renting it is about $500. The THA will subsidize $500 of that $1000 rent, so the renter only has to pay $500.”
Students facing homelessness or housing insecurity are encouraged to apply as soon as possible through the Coast Property Management website. After a few weeks, applications for the microapartments will be open to qualifying UWT students transferring from Tacoma Community College who currently use the CHAP program — TCC’s program with the THA for subsidized housing around the TCC area. If still unfilled, the units will then be open to the general UWT student populace. If there are still vacant microapartments thereafter, applications will be open to any low-income households.
The microapartment complex — which is located on 1554 Market Street — is being constructed by K?z Deve lopment LLC, with Coast Property Management handling the applications for the apartments. The K?z on Market St. stands across from the UWY, making it a prime location for student housing due to its proximity to the campus. The microapartments feature convertible furniture and bedding to make use of every square foot of the space. There are plans for retail to fill the bottom floor, and a secure lot for bicycles has been included into the construction of the building. No parking lot or additional street parking will be created for the apartments.
ASUWT president Armen Papyan explained how housing insecurities can affect a student’s ability to keep up with their studies. Papyan once found himself homeless for six months, and shared his experience about how hard it was to focus on school and on his education.
“When you are homeless, everything around you is impacted in a profound way,” Papyan said. “You might lose friends. You’re in a totally different world and state of mind where you’re trying to survive instead of getting an education. These apartments will help change that, where students will go from ‘surviving’ to ‘living’ and get their education.”
To apply for UWT microhousing: