William Wright Photography

A Tacoma, Washington, development has opened its doors to teens and young adults, providing them with a home as well as a shot at a better life.

“They come from the streets. They come from sex trafficking. The come because they grew out of foster care. They come because their parents ordered them out of the house, or they come because they made the plausible judgment that the streets are safer than home,” says Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA). “This is going to give them a second chance—a second chance at an adolescence, an adulthood, an education, an occupation, a family, and a life without fear.”

The Arlington Drive Campus for Homeless Youth and Young Adults features two parts. There is a crisis residential center for up to 12 youths 12 to 17 years old that’s managed by Community Youth Services, and there’s an adjacent 58-unit development for previously homeless individuals 18 to 24 years old, with on-site supportive services provided by the Social Impact Center of the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

William Wright Photography

The campus will serve hundreds of young people a year, with THA estimating that 30% of the residents will be parents of babies and toddlers.

Both buildings were designed to include opportunities for creating community, with different social spaces, and the apartment building includes physical and mental health clinical space.

The $25.6 million development is a unique project for a public housing authority and required strong service providers and partners, says Mirra, who was retiring in July after 19 years at THA. The completion of Arlington Drive, he says, feels like a culmination.

Financing included low-income housing tax credit equity.