Thurston Housing Authority is considering converting Tumwater Inn into housing for seniors


The Housing Authority of Thurston County (HATC) is considering purchasing Tumwater Inn on Capitol Boulevard and converting the motel to supportive housing for seniors, said HATC Executive Director Craig Chance during a Tumwater city council meeting on Tuesday, January 24.

Tumwater Inn & Suites is a long-term-stay budget motel at 5895 Capitol Blvd SE.

Chance explained that HATC is working to fund the project using a grant through the Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program of the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce). Tumwater would need to match the grant at 5%, which the city plans to take from its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds reserved for affordable housing projects.

Of the $550,000 of ARPA’s funds set aside for affordable housing, $275,000 remains of this portion of the city’s ARPA funds after the city council agreed in December 2022 to allocate the another $275,000 into another supportive housing project located along Franz Anderson Road in Olympia.

In support of the conversion project, the city council authorized city staff to draft a letter endorsing the purchase of the property.

Chance said that Commerce had already accepted the application for Tumwater Inn on January 12. Commerce aims to announce the applications they plan to review further next Friday, February 3, before making their final decision on which projects to fund on February 28.

Housing for seniors

HATC chose to prioritize seniors as there is insufficient housing for the age group. Chance said there are currently 362 senior households on the waitlist for housing in the county. The waitlist is currently closed, but the number of people on the list is expected to increase fourfold once it re-opens.

Tom Rawson, HATC’s administration and development director, added that many landlords have made aggressive increases in rent as they were not allowed to do so during the pandemic. Rawson said that these rent increases have burdened several households, but it leaves seniors specifically vulnerable should they be forced to live in their car or on the street.

Eligible tenants of supportive housing would need to pay for their units. Rawson said that for people who earn 30% of the median income in an area, a one-bedroom unit would cost $479, while a two-bedroom unit would cost $558. For people who earn half of the medium income in an area, a one-bedroom unit would cost $600, while a two-bedroom unit would cost $900.

Pros and cons of Tumwater Inn

Rawson said that Tumwater Inn was suitable for a conversion as the property started out as an apartment in 1967. It is also near amenities such as healthcare providers, dental clinics, restaurants, and convenience stores, making the location convenient for seniors.

Chance admitted there are several issues before the property could be converted to housing. First is that the building has two stories. Chance said that they could widen the stairs to make it easier for seniors to use.

“It's not ideal, but it's – I think – manageable,” Chane said.

The building would require other renovations, such as installing heat pumps to replace the baseboard heaters. Rawson said that the building could get really warm during summer, making the site unsuitable for seniors.

Chance added that the city would have to relocate around ten households that have been staying in the motel for extended periods.


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