Project Open Door will keep doors open

One of the Project Open Door buildings in Pierce County. (Courtesy: Chace Hunter)
One of the Project Open Door buildings in Pierce County. (Courtesy: Chace Hunter)



Recent funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce will help keep one Pierce County housing project running. Project Open Door serves people experiencing chronic homelessness.

“We felt like we had to make the decision soon: either to close it, the program, and sell the properties, in order to reduce some of the expenses,” said Chace Hunter, who is the executive director of AHAT (Affordable Housing and Treatment) Homecare. AHAT runs Project Open Door. 

The organization is getting $665,286 from the state.  Hunter said the group will use the funding to replace the roofs, make bathrooms more accessible and add two more units to the two Project Open Door buildings in Tacoma and Fircrest. Those buildings currently have eight units total. 

AHAT Homecare started in 1986 to serve people living with HIV. Another nonprofit, the Pierce County Aids Foundation, closed last fall. That left a lot of gaps in service for people in the county, Hunter said, including for AHAT clients, who received things such as meal delivery through PCAF. 

Pierce County has the second-highest population of people living with HIV in Washington, according to the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. 

Getting repairs out of the way with the state funding will allow the organization to focus on the future, Hunter said.

“That way we can continue to use the funding that we receive to actually serve the clients rather than trying to figure out which funding sources we’re using to provide maintenance,” Hunter said. 

31 affordable housing projects in Washington will be getting commerce funding for repairs and upgrades  this fall, which comes from the Housing Trust Fund. The projects must already be a part of the state’s  Housing Trust Fund portfolio. This funding is administered every other year. 

“We do have this significant portfolio of aging properties that we’re always trying to help address,” said Nate Lichti, managing director of the multifamily housing unit at the Department of Commerce. 

There were 72 applicants for this funding cycle.

“We’re usually, regionally, resource-constrained on the financial side,” Lichti said.