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Local

New apartments ready to help Tacoma students in need of affordable housing

Koz Development last year announced it was opening up its Koz on Market to help students find affordable housing.

This year, a second Koz property is launching another program to help more students struggling with finding a place in Tacoma they can afford.

Tacoma Housing Authority and Koz Development on Friday announced Koz at the Dome, 304 Puyallup Ave., has opened 64 of its 152 units to homeless and low-income students attending University Washington Tacoma or Tacoma Community College.

Additionally, the site can serve homeless unaccompanied Tacoma Public School (TPS) seniors 18 or older who are also enrolled at TCC or UWT.

Tacoma Public Schools “identified 53 unaccompanied homeless high school seniors this year,” according to the release.

The school system also has 750 McKinney Vento students — those covered by the federal education program of the same name to assist homeless children and youth.

“On any given night in Pierce County, over 1,000 youth and young adults are homeless without families,” THA said in its release. “Koz at the Dome will give these youth a roof over their head and a second chance at continuing their education.”

The site started accepting new residents Jan. 18. It comes at a time when the city is seeking more options for affordable housing amid spiraling home costs.

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Cathy Reines, CEO of Koz Development, told The News Tribune on Friday her company’s mission is “affordable and workforce-housing focused.”

“There is strong demand for affordable and workforce housing in most cities across the country,” she told The News Tribune via email. “Our values revolve around offering a housing solution that meets the needs of these individuals, providing them a place to live that they can be proud of.”

Partially furnished studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units are in the mix, open to students, including those with children.

The rent, subsidized by THA, includes utilities and high-speed internet.

Tenant rents are set under affordable rates (30 percent and 40 percent AMI), with the tenant portion ranging from $421-$722 for studios to 2-bedrooms, and THA housing assistance payment portion ranging from $373-$884.

Tacoma Housing Authority

THA payments and total rents might vary slightly by small amounts depending on unit size and location in the building.

Units not in the program are market rate.

Funding is managed by The Foundation for Tacoma Students to help cover move-in expenses. Koz and the Association of Washington Housing Authorities seeded the fund through a grant.

Both Koz apartment sites are notable in that there is no on-site parking, part of the transit-oriented development to help spur more development and perhaps appeal to students or Seattle commuters.

Both sites also qualified for Tacoma’s 12-year multifamily property tax exemption program.

Reines noted 63 percent of Market Street site’s residents are students, “primarily driven by location and the THA and market rate affordable rent options.”

“Koz on Market has stayed full with a waiting list ... and supports the conclusion that affordable, workforce housing is in strong demand in most US markets,” Reines said.

Brandon Wirth, communications manager for THA, said it was important not to underestimate the impact of Friday’s announcement, referring to a 2017 study that showed the rising problems of food insecurity and housing insecurity particularly among community college students.

For students, “we’re definitely moving in the right direction,” he said, but noted that affordability issues in the city remain a huge issue.

“Housing is so monumental, if you don’t have housing everything else in life is harder,” he said.

How to help

Donations from the public to help the students with move–in costs and basic needs can be made at bit.ly/KozStudents.

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