TACOMA, Wash. — The RISE headquarters in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood is a place Gregory Wraggs knows he can turn to when he needs a helping hand, especially during the summer weather.
Wraggs is helping to build housing across the street from the center for those experiencing homelessness. In the meantime, he and his family are living in his car. With so many people in a cramped space, Wraggs says it can quickly become unbearable.
“If they didn’t have the RISE center open, the heat would’ve gotten to us,” Wraggs recalls. “Even if don’t get that hot, the sun alone, inside a car, with more than one person? It gets to you, it really does. We woke up at 6 a.m., and I was sweating already.”
RISE executive director Gerald Daniels has been operating the center since 2018, and said having this space falls in line with what they already do to help those in need.
“We bring them in to do all the normal-day-to-day things, and if they need any supportive services, we have them right here for them don’t get out of our normal routine,” he said. “We feed people everyday, breakfast, lunch and dinner, they’re more than welcome to have those meals as well.”
However, Daniels said it can be tricky to convince those most in need to come to the center.
“When it’s a warming station, they know they can stay all night because we run that 24/7,” Daniels said. “We’re not open all day and night, so you have to go back to your location, and you want your stuff there. You don’t want to break down your house, your tent, right? You want to make sure it’s still there intact, and no one has stolen anything. So that’s the challenge of getting people to come in.”
Wraggs encourages anyone that needs a break from the heat to take advantage of a cooling center, because they’re open to all.
“Washington is not mandatory to have central A/C. So if your house doesn’t have A/C, pull up to a cooling center,” Wraggs exclaimed. “You don’t have to be homeless to come here, you just have to be hot.”