We need to stand together to ensure sustainable care for our neighbors experiencing homelessness


Pierce County has notified the Tacoma Rescue Mission and other historically funded shelter providers that they would receive funding for the 23-24 fiscal year (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024). We are not certain of the amounts that other organization have received but all of this information should be made publicly available soon. But, we are not out of the woods yet.

Tacoma Rescue Mission received approximately 80% of requested funds for shelter and outreach operations. This puts us at a budget shortfall of more than a half million dollars going into July. We will still need to take significant measures to manage this deficit. The exact impact of this is still being calculated. We plan to share with media outlets today the details of this impact on our team here at the Mission and our other partner shelter providers.

Because of a poorly designed funding system that relies upon Document Recording Fees, the Homelessness Housing Provider fund will experience significant instability. This doesn’t allow the county to align budget allocation with stated priorities. We may be in a much worse position one year from now if changes are not made to stabilize this fund. Shelter operations are a critical component to the county’s homelessness response strategy. These operations cannot be shut down and restarted by flipping a switch.

Pierce County should examine diversifying the funding of the HHP fund or securing a portion of it for shelter providers (as was accomplished in Clark County) to avoid a crisis like this in the future. The recently approved 1/10th of 1% sales tax increase presents an opportunity to stabilize shelter funding moving forward.

If you just started following this situation, read the information below to get some helpful context and learn more about the recent funding cuts to Pierce County shelters . . .

Here’s WhaT HappenED

In an unprecedented move, the Pierce County Homeless Housing Program denied historically funded grant requests from The Tacoma Rescue Mission, Catholic Community Services, the Salvation Army, and numerous other homeless service agencies that provide emergency shelter for residents of Tacoma and Pierce County on Monday, June 5th, 2023.

The Pierce County Homeless Housing Program reduced funding for homeless service agencies by $6.3 Million (a 54% decrease from previous funding) for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2023.

The sad reality is that this inaction is far more expensive for taxpayers than any imagined savings. It’s conservatively estimated that the true cost of services to support someone living on the streets is $35,000 per year. That means, the up to 500 people returned to the streets because of the county’s funding cuts will end up costing taxpayers over $17 million per year.

What it WAS GOING TO MEAN for our unhoused neighbors

The reduced award amounts for grant-dependent agencies caught several organizations off guard and scrambling to respond. These drastic funding cuts caused homeless service agencies to consider “doomsday scenarios” that severely jeopardize the stability of hundreds who were residing in their shelters.

The Tacoma Rescue Mission, Catholic Community Services Nativity House, The Salvation Army, and other emergency shelters were forced to consider severely limiting their shelter capacity and operations which may cause an estimated 500 men, women and children who are now in shelter to be expelled to the street as early as July 1, 2023.

How you can help

Pray that every man, woman, and child who comes through our doors experienced restoration and transformation. Pray for our dedicated team here at the Mission. Pray for God’s provision and for sustainable funding solutions.

In Romans 8:31, Paul writes, “What, then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Secondly, we are asking community members to reach out to their Pierce County representatives and ask them to stabilize funding for homeless shelters. When we stand and raise our voices together, change can happen.  

You can find contact information for your local representatives here: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/3301/Council-Contact-Information

Below is an email template that you are welcome to use when contacting your representative . . .

Dear [Representative Name],

I am asking you and your fellow county council members to stabilize funding for shelter in our community.

Make caring for our neighbors experiencing homelessness a priority by creating sustainable funding solutions for the organizations in our community that are helping transform and restore lives.

[Sign-off & Name]