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LIHI and Partners Celebrate Maureen Howard Place Grand Opening

On June 24th, Maureen Howard's family, friends, and colleagues gathered with elected officials, project partners, housing supporters, and LIHI staff to celebrate the grand opening of Maureen Howard Place in Lakewood, located at 10720 Pacific Hwy SW.

Built in 2010, this former Candlewood Suites has been converted to an enhanced shelter serving people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County, including singles, couples, and people with pets. The shelter includes 77 rooms for guests. Six rooms have been converted into offices for case management services, housing operations, and community space. 

Funding for the purchase of Candlewood Suites was made possible from the state’s Encampment Resolution Program initiated by Governor Inslee and the state legislature. 

LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee said, “We are thrilled to open Maureen Howard Place in partnership with WSDOT, State Department of Commerce and Pierce County. This 24/7 enhanced shelter will move people who were once living in unsafe locations along our state highways into a former hotel where we can help them stabilize their lives and find permanent housing.”

Staff will be on-site 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Staff include a site manager, assistant manager, shelter monitors, case managers, and behavioral health support. Case managers will help clients obtain long-term housing, employment, health care, and other services. Program participants will agree to a code of conduct. Each room includes a bed, living space, bathroom, microwave and refrigerator. There is onsite laundry.

Initial referrals will be made of people who were living on state right-of-ways (ROW) who have been staying temporarily in hotels while awaiting building permits to be issued by the City of Lakewood. 

The most recent Point-In-Time count (January 26) for Pierce County documented 2,661 homeless individuals of which 1,216 (46%) were living unsheltered. The PIT count of homeless people is a 23% increase from last year. 

Maureen Howard Place is named in honor of Maureen Howard, a fearless champion for the rights of homeless people. A near-lifelong resident of Washington, Howard served as an advocate for affordable housing for nearly 40 years until her passing in early 2023. She began her career in advocacy as Director of the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Center in Tacoma, was a founding member of the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, served as Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington State, and a leader in the Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. Howard was an essential figure in Pierce County’s fight to get people off the streets and into affordable housing.  Click here for an article about Maureen and her significance to the community.

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