Message from the Director

Message from the Director

On behalf of THA's Board of Commissioners and staff, I welcome you to the web site for the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA). We hope you find it useful.

The primary mission of the Tacoma Housing Authority is to provide high quality housing and supportive services to persons and families in need. We seek to do this in ways that get two other things done. First, we want the households we serve to succeed not just as tenants but as "parents, students, wage earners and builders of assets." If they are capable of working, we want their time on our programs to be transforming, and temporary. We want this certainly for parents, but emphatically for their children because we do not wish them to need our housing when they grow up. Second, we want to help our City of Tacoma develop and to help ensure that when it does develop it has room for all types and incomes of households. We seek to do our part in making its neighborhoods, as our strategic directives contemplate, "attractive places to live, work, attend school, shop, and play", and to help Tacoma be "safe, vibrant, prosperous, attractive and just." When these efforts work, they are a very good use of a housing dollar.

THA is a public housing authority. We are also a Moving to Work (MTW) public housing authority. That helps us do this work creatively, efficiently and flexibly to account for the needs of Tacoma and Pierce County. We are also a public development authority. That helps too.

We do this work in four main ways.

First, THA develops housing and real estate. THA seeks, by what it builds, how it builds, and what it buys, to create and promote properties that serve a range of needs and that are financially sustainable, environmentally innovative, and attractive. It seeks by its development to encourage others to invest in a neighborhood. We try to set a good example with attractive and environmentally responsible designs. We tell ourselves that both ugly and lovely are contagious. If we design and build attractive properties, other developers are more likely to do so. In particular, we try to show this with the higher residential densities that the City's comprehensive plan directs. THA also helps to finance the housing that other nonprofits develop in Tacoma and Pierce County. We do this for several reasons. Those other organizations may serve people with special needs, such as persons who are mentally ill or dependent on drugs or alcohol or fleeing domestic violence. THA may not have the specialized skills necessary to serve these populations. A good way for THA to serve them is to finance the efforts of other high capacity organizations with those skills. THA's financing also leverages other sources of money, public and private. This brings more resources into Tacoma. Finally, THA's financing can help to strengthen the capacity of nonprofit partners and in that way fortify the service sector of Tacoma generally.

Second, THA owns and manages affordable apartments and homes that we offer for rent. We seek to maintain our properties so they are attractive and enjoyable places to live and assets for their neighborhoods.

Third, we help people pay their rent for apartments or homes that they lease from private landlords. Our Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) and our Housing Opportunity Program (HOP) are our main programs for this type of help. THA also funds specialized forms of rental assistance to address households with particular needs. Some examples are rental assistance programs for homeless families with children, homeless families with enrolled public school students, homeless students during their community college enrollment, homeless youth without families, homeless veterans, persons in nursing homes who could live on their own if only they could afford housing, families who need housing to prevent or shorten their children's need for foster care, and teenagers aging out of foster care who would otherwise begin their adulthood as a homeless person. We do this work in partnership with thousands of landlords in our community, the Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma Community College and other educational partners, Pierce County Department of Community Connections, the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs and many nonprofit service providers.

Fourth, THA also provides or arranges for supportive services. We do this for people who need help to succeed as tenants. Elderly or disabled persons, for example, may need help to live on their own. Families coming from homelessness or fleeing domestic violence may need help to stabilize. Services make stabilization a lot more likely. Moreover, we seek to help families and children prosper. We help people who can work increase their earned income. We help children succeed in school. THA's Education Project, for example, seeks ways to spend a housing dollar not only to house a family but also to help their children’s educational success and to promote the success of schools that serve low-income children. We help families and children build assets. Assets can help families manage temporary loses of income. Assets can help a family and their children prosper for a lifetime and perhaps pass some measure of prosperity to the next generation. Supportive services can make these sorts of success more likely.

In these ways, and others, THA tries to serve its communities. We are a Board of five community volunteers and a staff of about 130 people. We coordinate our efforts with many partners, both public and private. We believe these efforts are important. THA's statement of values conveys our belief that work in service to others is "honorable" work. We mean to do it "honorably, effectively, efficiently, with pride, compassion and respect". We invite you to learn more about us and our work. We hope this web site will help you do that.

Michael Mirra 
Executive Director