Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity supports the City of Tacoma’s efforts to address our community’s housing issues through their comprehensive Affordable Housing Action Strategy and, specifically, the Home in Tacoma Project.
In order to address housing shortages and increase access to affordable and attainable housing, we must provide more opportunities to create housing. Our city lacks the inventory to support both the rental and ownership demands for affordable and market rate housing, and lack of decisive action will only cause our community to fall further behind.
The ultimate goal for the Home in Tacoma Project is to increase housing supply, affordability, and development options and opportunities throughout Tacoma’s neighborhoods.
In order to fully appreciate the project’s goals, it’s important to understand the limitations our current residential land use regulations present. Nearly 75% of Tacoma’s residential land inventory is zoned exclusively for single-family housing. This is a policy decision; a decision which limits housing development opportunities, creates and reinforces a less efficient use of land, reaffirms the racist origins of our current residential zoning structure, and restricts the City’s ability to adapt to changing housing needs.
To serve the community, we must adapt.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity agrees with the City of Tacoma’s Planning Commission that the current housing rules “are no longer serving us well.” To adapt we know that Tacoma must establish a housing strategy that boldly envisions the growth of housing options throughout our city.
At Habitat, we believe the Home in Tacoma Project is a key step toward that vision. We know that incentive and inclusionary zoning strategies work best in a rising market—like Tacoma’s. Our rising market, coupled with new housing opportunities that this rezoning should allow, is a chance the City should not miss. We also encourage the City to consider a wide expansion of the 12 and new, 20 year multi-family property tax exemptions tools to provide options for housing development to include long-term, cost-controlled units.
Additionally, we support exploring policy development that allows more in-parcel subdivisions to enable the development of duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, cottages, and townhomes to be sold in a fee simple transaction. Establishing policy to support fee simple land development would create more affordable ownership opportunities in Tacoma by removing condominium requirements (insurance, filing fees, etc.) and thereby lowering the cost to build.
Housing will determine whether the City of Tacoma can overcome the impacts of a century of purposeful racially exclusionary policies. Housing will determine the well-being of nearly every other civic interest: education, child welfare, individual and public health, transportation, land use, growth management and economic development.
Join us in support of Home in Tacoma Project by connecting with your council members and/or sharing information about the project with your network. (Not sure which council district you live in? You can use this map to find out.)