Tacoma Community College (TCC), located in Tacoma, Washington is a two-year institution serving 3,300 full-time students from 18 countries.  It has been on the forefront of the increasingly important fight against student homelessness with student support programs such as the College Housing Assistance Program (CHAP).  This is an innovative partnership with the Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) that provides rental assistance for students who are enrolled in a degree program and who are homeless or facing other forms of housing insecurity.


The THA acquired a 6.92-acre property across the street from the campus known as James Center North with the intended outcome to develop the property as a mix of housing choices and retail that complement the mission of the THA and generate revenue to advance TCC’s future development efforts amongst the city.  The vision was to create a mixed-income, mixed-use, multi-modal community that is an urban destination.

Based on the ongoing relationship between THA and TCC, there was interest in understanding if providing housing on this site for the TCC students was feasible and attractive to private developers.  TCC engaged The Scion Group to complete a Student Housing Market Demand and Financial Analysis to understand precise demand numbers, unit preferences, and rent tolerances as well as the implication of different delivery and ownership structure.


Scion’s iterative process to achieve the desired outcomes of TCC and the THA work began by identifying the strategic objectives through a collaborative workshop amongst diverse, key stakeholders.  These are referenced to inform all decision-making from planning to implementation as well as ongoing operations.  Following this session, Scion conducted intense qualitative and quantitative research that involved significant student participation through focus groups, intercept interviews, and a broad-based online survey.  Stakeholder interviews with TCC and THA were conducted to understand institutional aspirations and willingness to offer campus housing.   At this point in the process, Scion is modeling different delivery and financial structures to empower decision-making on a transaction that would advance and support the mission and objectives of both organizations and satisfy required financial returns.


The results of the research conducted by Scion concluded in December of 2019 that there is potentially sufficient demand for the project when the eligibility included full and part-time students.  Therefore, TCC and THA are continuing discussions on a potential form of collaboration that would provide housing for TCC students on the JCN site.  This discussion is being informed by Scion’s current financial modeling and work sessions with both parties.

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