Home at Last – Impacting our Community with Safe, Affordable Housing

Almost 3 years (2 years, 8 months) is how long it takes to receive a housing assistance voucher in Washington state for very low-income households. There are 229,295 extremely low-income rental households1 in Washington state. Couple the low-income housing crisis in Washington with the despair of fleeing from domestic violence, and you see why a new development in Tacoma’s downtown core is bringing renewed hope and joy to community members.

The newly finished $23 million YWCA Pierce County Dorothy Height Apartments, is an affordable housing development on Broadway, a few blocks from Wright Park. The new development offers safe, affordable homes for 54 families so they can create a renewed start at life. Seventy-five percent of the units are reserved for those experiencing homelessness with 30 units tied to Section 8 housing vouchers. The project includes 10 studios, 17 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and 9 three-bedroom units.

Many of these new residents have struggled to find a safe shelter for years. The project, which broke ground in 2019, has an amazing rooftop community space that overlooks beautiful Commencement Bay and Mt. Rainier. AHBL is a community partner with many organizations and was privileged to be a part of the design team led by SMR Architects for this life-altering project for many Pierce County residents.

AHBL’s landscape architects designed the courtyard to include a play structure for the numerous children that now reside at the property as well as imagined a rooftop communal space with views of downtown Tacoma and Mount Rainier that would be not only be beautiful but restorative and healing.

“From the beginning, one of the project’s goals was to create a beautiful and welcoming, home-like landscape. We provided a planting palette that is both easy to maintain and supports the goal of being a healing and comforting space.” - Sarah Singleton Schroedel, Senior Landscape Architect.

With the addition of Dorothy Height Apartments, the campus connects its shelter facility with the YWCA’s main Tacoma office where they provide support service programs (children’s programs, legal services, counseling) to the residents. The development also provides 3,000 sq. ft. of YWCA counseling space.


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