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More help for Tiki: Tacoma funds case manager to help tenants find new homes

Impending evictions at Tacoma apartment complex sow fear, sadness

About 100 residents of the Tiki Apartments are to be evicted by the new owners of the apartment complex on South 12th street near SR-16 in Tacoma.
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About 100 residents of the Tiki Apartments are to be evicted by the new owners of the apartment complex on South 12th street near SR-16 in Tacoma.

The residents of the Tiki Apartments are getting a little extra help.

The Tacoma City Council voted Tuesday night to spend $10,000 to provide case-management services for the tenants, who now must leave their homes by the end of June.

The money will pay a case worker to help Tiki tenants find suitable housing that they can afford before their move-out date.

Part of the contract with United Way will include a report to the city "to let us know how many residents we've been able to help get placed, how many are left to get placed and what the barriers are with those placements," Mayor Victoria Woodards said, "so we don't get to June at the end of that extension and find there are still people who haven't been able to find housing."

Tiki residents who need help finding a new place can dial 211 within the city, Woodards said. A case manager has been assigned to answer that hotline to help them.

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Last week, the council announced it had crafted a deal with the apartment complex's new owner, CWD Investments LLC, to give the tenants in 58 units at the Tiki until the end of June to vacate. That came as a relief to the crowd of residents who gathered at two City Council meetings last week, some of whom said they were facing homelessness if they had to move out the following Monday.

On April 5, residents in all 58 units received a notice from Allied Residential, the third-party company that now manages the property, indicating that residents in half of the units had until April 30 to vacate. Residents in the other half had until the end of May. Residents were told they would get $900 in moving assistance upon turning in their keys.

That left many of the Tiki's low income and disabled residents scrambling to find housing. They worried they would end up on the street because they didn't have the money to pay the first month's rent, last month's rent and deposit required by many apartment buildings.

Also last week, the council voted to create a Tenant Rights Code in the city's municipal code. It requires 90-day notice to tenants when they're asked to move out because of a change of use of the dwelling unit or because of a substantial renovation or a demolition. That law goes into effect May 14, which allows the new owner of the Tiki to remove its tenants without providing 90 days notice.

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CWD Investments LLC has said it is planning major renovations at the apartment complex near state Route 16 and South 12th Street.

At Tuesday's meeting some tenants thanked the City Council for acting quickly and decisively to help them before they were forced to move out.

But Sarah Howe, a legally blind tenant in a wheelchair, said she has found multiple barriers in securing a new home: her chair, and her emotional support cat. She burst into tears when she spoke about having to move into a new place that would force her to part with Miracle.

"I'm posting on Facebook looking for a room to rent, and I'm concerned I'm going to go from one temporary place to rent to another," Howe said. "But I still am so thankful for everything you've done."

The council is planning to continue discussions around tenant rights in its Community Vitality and Safety committee, Councilman Keith Blocker said.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud
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