Making a Difference in Community:

David, Matt and I have come to understand what a new home means to people. The anticipation as the closing date approaches can be intense. Living in a new home changes lives. But what about someone who has been without a home completely? What must it be like to go from living on the streets one day, figuring out where to sleep or find a meal, to moving into a safe place that you can call your own? I must admit I was clueless about the magic that happens next. Troy Christensen, Chief of Operations at Metropolitan Development Council (MDC) tells me I am not alone—most people are clueless about that. It turns out taking away the homelessness has a way of magically solving a lot of other problems for the person and for the community.

When a homeless person is sick or suffering from injury, health problems, mental health issues, alcohol or drug addiction, their top priority is unlikely to be fixing themselves. Their to-do list is more basic. You may remember studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Near the bottom are things like food, water and air, followed by safety and security. When the foundation of the hierarchy comes together for a person, they can then find the will to cope with the other issues. This cause and effect has been proven elsewhere. Now it is being done in Tacoma with the recent opening of The Randall Townsend Apartments. There are 35 apartments, a medical facility and community center, as well as 24 hour front desk staff. Across the street is MDC’s services center where residents can receive help fighting addiction or dealing with mental health issues, as well as educational and employment resources. Accepting services is not a condition of getting an apartment, which actually makes people more inclined to use them and take ownership of process and outcome.

Troy and MDC are passionate about ending homelessness in Tacoma. If that sounds like an impossible task don’t tell Troy. He believes it can be done. Learn how to help at

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