Inside Opinion

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Tag: Tacoma Housing Authority


THA offers a broader vision of subsidized housing

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Housing authorities rarely make headlines. When they do, it’s rarely in a good way.

The Tacoma Housing Authority is proving itself the exception.

In recent years, the THA has been reinventing subsidized housing — radically reinventing it, compared with the standard entitlement model.

Federally funded housing authorities have traditionally passed out subsidies like the old welfare system, which had the perverse effect of subsidizing dependency among adults capable of working.

Starting with the welfare reforms of 1996, most heads of families were given a lifetime maximum of five years on public assistance. While on welfare, they were expected to actively seek work or train for jobs.

In contrast, the strings normally attached to federal housing funds have required local housing authorities to increase a family’s subsidies if its income goes down and cut if its income went up. As long as the household fits the formula, the subsidies don’t stop.

But housing authorities have a problem that federal welfare doesn’t: There is never enough money to help every family that can’t afford a decent place to live. The THA has a long line of applicants who commonly wait four or five years for housing assistance.
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Smoke-free public housing good for health, safety and costs

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Sorry, smokers, but soon there will be one less place for you to light up: in Tacoma’s publicly subsidized housing.

No doubt many smokers are dreading the March 1 smoking ban approved recently by the Tacoma Housing Authority’s board. But it’s a positive step not only for their neighbors and those they live with, but also for taxpayers.

A smoking ban pays off big-time in better health and enhanced safety. It will help reduce other housing clients’ exposure to secondhand smoke, which is estimated to kill 50,000 nonsmokers nationwide each year. And it will make them less vulnerable to perishing in a residence fire.
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Paving the path to college for low-income kids

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition

For many low-income students, dreams of higher education have little chance of coming true. But in Tacoma, the public schools have teamed up with the leading low-income housing agency to help put more students on the path to college.

The College Bound Scholarship program, created by the Legislature in 2008, is the vehicle for making those higher ed dreams come true. Applicants, who sign up as middle-schoolers, must qualify for free or reduced-price meals or be a foster child, maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average through high school and commit no felonies. If they fulfill those requirements, the program will pay the tuition to college or private career school, fees and a $500 annual book stipend.

But the challenge is getting youngsters to apply for the program. They have to sign up at the end of their eighth-grade school year, and it can be hard to get kids that age to focus on anything, much less on a goal more than four years down the road. Read more »