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Lakewood to build new low-income housing units, expand homeless services

Lakewood’s lone homeless services provider is gearing up for a substantial expansion in the hopes of providing more resources for the city’s most vulnerable.

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — The Living Access Support Alliance (LASA), Lakewood’s sole homeless services provider, will be offering more to the city’s unhoused community.

LASA is hoping to expand its reach by creating a hygiene center in its current building.

Lakewood mayor Jason Whalen said that the city will also secure $600,000 to help LASA expand into the lot next door and build up to 50 units of low-income housing.

Lakewood currently holds the third-largest homeless population in Pierce County.

LASA currently houses 75 people a year, and Hutchins says the provider has helped over a thousand people with paying their rent and utilities, thanks to funds from the America Rescue Plan Act.

But LASA’s Executive Director, Janne Hutchins, says she’s concerned that it may not be enough to keep up with the costs of keeping a roof over people's heads.

“We and other agencies in the county and Tacoma have been successful in keeping people housed, but there’s others that we clearly see are just going to fall through the cracks, they’re going to become homeless,” she said.

Because of this, Hutchins says it’s vital that city leadership and service providers shift to a model that focuses on creating a safety net to catch the ones who’re about to fall through those cracks.

“They created this COVID rental assistance overnight practically, and it’s had an amazing impact on the community, and now they’re realizing guess what? We need to have this all the time, for someone who needs it for one month or two months,” she said. “We’re helping people once they’re homeless, and that’s great, but maybe we should be putting a little bit more to prevent them from becoming homeless.”


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