Mayor Victoria Woodards wants to help businesses replace broken windows and pay for private security teams in some districts.
TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma business owners could soon get help from the city if a proposal from Mayor Victoria Woodards moves forward.
Woodards wants to help businesses replace broken windows and pay for private security teams in some districts. City leaders are now looking for funding after discussing it at a work session last week – they want to find money to help with a COVID-19 vaccine verification program as well.
The help would be a welcome relief to business owners who spend thousands every time they deal with vandalism or a break-in.
Natalie Bajinya just opened her shop inside the Johnson Candy Shop building last month when she received a flurry of early-morning calls warning her about a problem.
“When I came, I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Bajinya said.
The front window was shattered and broken glass was everywhere.
“They took my fabric, they took my iPod, they took my camera, and they took my clothes out of the window,” she said.
Thousands of dollars in fabrics and custom-order clothing were gone. Bajinya recently moved into this location after her other shop in Lakewood was ruined by water damage.
“I don’t know how to come back up again,” Bajinya said.
It’s another setback for this small business owner who has been through so much in her life. As a child, she fled her homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, amid war. She spent years in an orphanage in Kenya where nuns taught her how to sew.
She came to America as a teenager as a refugee and worked for years to earn money to bring her siblings over and help raise them.
She worries these losses will make it hard to keep her business going.
“I was getting to the point where I can provide for my family and myself and I hate to go back on food stamps, and I think about it, it just breaks me because I don’t want to go back,” she said, fighting back tears.
Business owners around Tacoma say vandalism and break-ins are an ongoing problem.
Mayor Woodards proposed city funding to help pay for fixing damage and money for extra security.
With homeless camps and open drug use around her business, Bajinya said she doesn’t feel safe, but also can’t leave.
“I have to stay because I don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.