Addressing Washington’s Affordable Housing Crisis From A Community Perspective

Washington State, with Tacoma at its heart, is grappling with an affordable housing crisis that spans beyond city limits to affect the entire region. Mayor Victoria Woodards of Tacoma voices a pressing concern shared by many: the dire need for legislative action and innovative solutions to make housing affordable and accessible for all.

The challenge is multifaceted, involving skyrocketing rents, a dearth of affordable housing units, and the ever-looming threat of eviction for thousands. This is not just a local predicament but a statewide emergency calling for a collective response. The News Tribune elaborates on these challenges and the city's plea for state intervention.

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Public Sentiment and the Call for Action

A survey conducted by Wells Fargo reveals widespread dissatisfaction among Washingtonians with the state's affordable housing situation. Only 32% of residents express satisfaction with the availability of affordable housing, a figure that falls below the national average. This discontent underscores the urgency of addressing the housing affordability crisis, not just in Tacoma but across the Pacific Northwest.

The findings suggest a critical need for more affordable housing options, especially in urban areas like Seattle, where the cost of living continues to rise. MyNorthwest provides a detailed overview of these survey results and the broader implications for Washington residents.

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Tacoma's Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS)

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In response to this growing crisis, the City of Tacoma has launched an ambitious Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS) aimed at increasing the availability of affordable homes and preventing displacement. Through a comprehensive plan involving the construction of new affordable units, preservation of existing housing, and support for residents at risk of losing their homes, Tacoma is setting a precedent for municipal action.

The strategy outlines specific objectives, such as the creation of 6,000 new affordable housing units by 2028 and measures to keep existing housing both affordable and in good repair. For a detailed look at Tacoma's efforts and strategic objectives, visit the city's official AHAS page.

A Unified Approach to a Complex Issue

The affordable housing crisis in Washington requires a unified approach that transcends city boundaries and involves state-wide legislation, community involvement, and innovative financing models. By drawing on the strength of community voices, leveraging state and private resources, and implementing targeted strategies like those outlined in Tacoma's AHAS, there is hope for making affordable housing a reality for all Washingtonians.

The time for action is now, with the well-being of countless families and the future vibrancy of our communities at stake. Together, we can work towards a future where every resident has access to safe, affordable housing.

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AHAS Objective 2019–June 2023 Progress 2028 Goal Key Actions
Creation of new affordable housing 1,103 units built; 1,033 units coming online 6,000 units Modify inclusionary housing provisions, update the Multifamily Tax Exemption Program, leverage publicly and partner-owned land
Keeping existing housing affordable and in good repair 230 units preserved; 34 units in progress 2,300 units Target existing resources to improve livability of owner-occupied homes
Helping community members stay in their current housing 56,065 households served with $31,336,759.15 1,200 households served Expand tenants’ protections, create resources for households in housing crisis
Reducing barriers for those who often encounter them 8,313 people served through City-funded shelter sites; 1,557 individuals experiencing homelessness successfully exited to housing 1,000 households served Streamline processes for rental assistance, earmark funding to provide support services in new development

This table encapsulates the strategic objectives of Tacoma's AHAS, providing a snapshot of the progress made from January 2019 to June 2023, the goals set for 2028, and some of the key actions taken to achieve these objectives. It illustrates the city's multi-faceted approach to tackling the affordable housing crisis, from increasing the supply of affordable units to ensuring the stability of current residents and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.

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