There is good news for people evicted from the Tiki Apartments in Tacoma. They get to move back in once renovations are finished - if they haven't found new homes yet. The place was renamed the Highland Flats.
People evicted so the building could be renovated thought they'd never be back. "I'm actually going to get my exact same apartment," said former Tiki tenant Donna Seay.
That apartment is one of the places where the Tiki tenants movement started last April after people in 62 units heard they were being evicted so the entire place could be renovated.
They organized and they converged on city hall. "And we worked together," said Seay. "We went down there to the city council and I'd never stepped foot in a municipal building before in my whole entire life."
They got a few week's reprieve from their eviction and now comes word the ones who haven't found affordable housing will be welcomed back with federally subsidized payments from the Tacoma Housing Authority. "As you know we're a force to be reckoned with. Several units have been set aside," said Seay who gets one of them.
The other 55 units have been set aside for nearby Tacoma Community College students who have been homeless at one point during the past year. The rent will be kept low at $420 a month thanks to $500,000 from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) paid to the apartment house owner through the Housing Authority.
"We're really excited for that," said Brandon Wirth with the Housing Authority. "We're excited that they'll be able to come back to a place that they called home for so long."
"I have a chance to move back," said Matt Yablon, former Tiki tenant. "I'm really excited." He has been living in his car since he was evicted June 30. "It's no fun. It's really terrible being homeless."
If all goes well, they'll be able to move in in the next few weeks. It would be just in time for the holidays. "That would be such a Christmas present, let me tell you," said Yablon. "Have my own place again."
The owner says most of the renovation inside and out has been done. They're just waiting for inspections over the next few weeks. All sides are hoping this new kind of partnership can be a model for the entire region.