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Equity and Human Rights

Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR) Happenings & Highlights



City of Tacoma's Fair Housing Law



Stop - Housing Discrimination

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April 2024 is Fair Housing Month

This year, we commemorate the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, that made discrimination in housing transactions unlawful. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, and familial status. This year’s Fair Housing Month theme is “Fair Housing: The ‘Act’ in Action.” For more information about your fair housing rights, visit the City of Tacoma Fair Housing web page.


The Office of Equity & Human Rights: Transforming Government, Building Inclusive Community

We have been at the center of the City of Tacoma’s commitment to transform government, and anchor it in anti-racist practices and policies. Ultimately, this work is rooted in meeting the essential needs that advance well-being and help everyone in Tacoma achieve their full potential.


Our Work is Centered on an Equity and Empowerment Framework with Five Primary Goals.

Our workforce reflects the community it serves

  • Provided basic equity training to over 90% of the General Government workforce including the Tacoma Fire Department.
    Implemented remote training in response to the challenges posed by COVID 19, we designed a remote alternative to Equity 101 and offered over 30 workshops to employees from March through December of 2020.
  • Launched Equity 101 in 2019 to Tacoma Public Utilities employees.
  • Hosted five intensive 4-day trainings to prepare employees from across the city to facilitate Equity 101 workshops and other equity- driven meetings.
  • Created the planning templates and supports for all City departments to create Racial Equity Action Plans (REAP) for the 2021-2022 biennium
  • Hosted three series of listening sessions over 12 months that focused on the experiences of staff members of color and integrated input from those sessions to inform policy and practice. These have been followed by seven listening sessions to center Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Perspectives as well as encourage the practices of white ally ship.
  • Worked with the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) to assess hiring and retention numbers for BIPOC staff and to use this data to transform the composition of the workforce, support hiring and retention practices and promote the advancement of diverse leadership.
  • Assessed the distribution of internship opportunities across the city and developed a plan to center a greater distribution of those internships to BIPOC candidates.
  • Worked with employees to plan cultural heritage events in 2018 and Tacoma Public Utilities joined in 2019 and together supported live events through 2020 reaching thousands of employees. 

Purposeful community outreach and engagement

  • Extended the community dialogues between Tacoma Police and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) into ongoing community and youth dialogues to build trust and recommend policy changes in support of community safety.
  • Organized and helped launch the Black Parent Alliance to elevate black voice into education policy on behalf of black youth.
  • Partnered with the Commission of Refugee and Immigrant Affairs to transform the content and curriculum of welcoming week to address ongoing refugee and immigrant concerns both naming the systemic challenges faced by these communities and offering forum to design lasting solutions.

Equitable service delivery to all residents and visitors

  • Spearheaded a citywide Governmental Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE) cohort that engaged in one-year comprehensive training program to lead the transformation of City government and Tacoma Public Utilities.
  • Engaged in a root cause analysis of systemic racism in order to build lasting solutions.
  • Built a racial equity team to integrate City-wide change by embedding support in every department to implement REAP plans.

Support human rights and opportunities for everyone to achieve their full potential

  • Fielded more than 2,000 inquiries a year from landlords and/or tenants wanting to know their rights and responsibilities.
  • Achieved 100% voluntary compliance on Rental Housing Code complaints.
  • Eliminated the barrier of requiring the burdensome requirement that a human rights complaint be notarized.
  • Improved education on discrimination matters and increased access to filing a charge by answering frequently asked questions and enabling Tacoma residents to complete intake worksheet on-line.
  • Improved the quality and processing time of HUD cases by 35% to ensure Complainants of fair housing cases receive a timely and thorough investigation.
  • Enforced an added protection, Source of Income, under TMC 1.29, effective February 1, 2019 to prevent discrimination.
  • Partnered with Community Partners such as Homewards Bound, Tacoma Rescue Mission, Pierce County Aging and Disability, and DSHS to conduct fair housing education.
  • In 2020 alone the Human Rights Office:
  1. Educated approximately 500 landlords on their rights and responsibilities (calls fielded).
  2. Educated 525 community members on their civil rights related to fair housing, employment, and public accommodations (calls fielded). 
  3. Investigated and closed 7 employment and public accommodation cases, and of the 7 completed cases, 2 were settlements.
  4. Investigated and closed 7 fair housing cases, all were settlements.
  • Created and launched a data-driven policy informing equity tool that is now used to set policies and practices for service delivery for all residents.
  • Developed and implemented the Rental Housing Code with the assistance of a broad range of stakeholders.


Commitment to equity in policy decision-making

  • Led the effort for Tacoma Municipal Code 1.29 to include the requirement of labeling single-occupant public restrooms as gender neutral.
  • Supported the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities (TACOD) to pass a universal closed captioning ordinance requiring every public establishment with a television to provide captioning in Tacoma.
  • TACOD worked with Tacoma City Council to fund a feasibility study to explore a sustainable accessible taxi service in the city for people with disabilities.
  • Launched the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force, which led to creation of Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (CIRA).
  • In affiliation with Public Works, OEHR supported City Council passed ordinance granting right of first refusal to Puyallup Tribe of Indians for all surplus property.


Since 2017, We Have:

  • Deepened the efforts toward transforming every aspect of city government in pursuit of strategic, systemic change and made significant progress in collaboration with every government department and at Tacoma Public Utilities.
  • Led every department in developing a Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) and building in accountability measures to these plans to assure transformation.
  • Introduced a set of strategies to retain Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) employees and to identify and invest in BIPOC leadership which will be adopted by the City in the 2021-22 biennium.
  • Partnered with Tacoma Public Utilities to lead a transformation at TPU driven by equity.
  • Worked with an Equity Advisory team and with the Executive Committee at TPU to make this transformation a reality.


Major Milestones and Ongoing Work:

  • The Tacoma Police Department will be joining the professional developmentengagement in 2021.
  • Building a racial equity driven communication plan built on AFFIRMING Common Purpose, COUNTERING arguments in opposition to equity and TRANSFORMING City government (ACT).
  • Ongoing work to establish and implement a Racial Equity Action Plans. In a sweeping, citywide commitment, OEHR helped develop planning strategies and supports for all City departments to create Racial Equity Action Plans (REAP) for the 2021-2022 biennium.
  • The Tacoma City Council adopted the Age Friendly Tacoma Action Plan in December 2021. The plan guides City staff to include specific age-friendly measures and metrics in other planning documents to ensure there is a policy lens focused on the needs of our more experienced residents.
  • Transforming Tacoma Public Utilities—The work of racial equity gained critical momentum in 2018 anchored by a permanent satellite office housed at TPU and embraced by the new TPU Director, Jackie Flowers. Below is a snapshot of the major milestones in TPU’s progress from 2018 to 2020.


  • Presented a plan to stand up a satellite Office of Equity and Human Rights at TPU.
  • Established an equity satellite office by November.


  • In collaboration with OEHR, the Public Utility Board adopted their first strategic directive, and anchored it in the principles of equity and inclusion.


  • In August, OEHR made the first annual report to the Public Utility Board on Strategic Directive #1: Equity and Inclusion; and supported community engagement staff on the equity component of their Strategic Directive #4 report.

Contact Us

Office of Equity and Human Rights
City of Tacoma
747 Market Street 
Room 1044
Tacoma, WA 98402
(253) 591-5045