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Affordable Housing Action Strategy

Affordable Housing Action Strategy

Tacoma is in a housing affordability crisis. We see the impacts through rising rents, home prices and evictions, leading to over 29,000 renters and 18,000 homeowners living in high precarious neighborhoods throughout our region.* The Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS) is an organization wide initiative to address our housing affordability crisis through 27 strategic actions defined by the City and our stakeholders.


*Determined by high displacement and eviction risk, along with high levels of unemployment. See Urban Displacement Project—Housing Precarity Risk Model.



To learn more about the key challenges and actions named in the strategy, please review the Affordable Housing Action Strategy document.


Strategic Objectives In Action

Objective 1: The creation of new affordable housing

  • January 2019–December 2022: 1,045 units built; 824 units coming online
  • 2028 AHAS goal: 6,000 units

Action 1.2: Modify inclusionary housing provisions to target unmet need and align with market realities.(pp. 24-25)

  • Three private upzones and four Tacoma Mall inclusionary zoning projects in process.
  • Home in TacomaAfter the City Council established the regulatory framework for affordable housing incentives and requirements throughout 2015-18, Planning and Development Services is evaluating its effectiveness through Phase 1 of the Home in Tacoma project, which calls for recalibrating, strengthening and expanding the use of these tools.

Action 1.3: Update the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program to increase its impact. (p. 26)

  • 241 affordable units built. 

  • 491 affordable units approved.
  • The MFTE program allows for an 8-year property tax exemption for new multifamily housing units, a 12-year exemption if 20% of those units are affordable at 70% of the Pierce County area median income (AMI) for 20 years, and a 20-year exemption if 25% of the units are permanently affordable. 


Action 1.4: Leverage publicly and partner-owned land for affordable housing. (p. 27)

  • When City owned land is deemed no longer needed, it prioritizes selling of transferring ownership of it for the purpose of building affordable housing. 
  • Three TPU surplus properties were awarded to affordable housing developers via the City’s surplus property RFP process. The properties were offered at no costs for affordable housing under the new Disposition Policy.
  • Learn more on the City's Surplus Land website

AHAS 1.7: Increase participation and resources for new home buyers (p. 30)

  • Conducted a Housing Disparity Study to examine disproportionalities in homeownership and the inaccessibility of generational wealth building for communities of color..
  • To learn more about resources related to first-time homebuyer assistance please see the City's Housing Division website

Action 1.8: Encourage more diverse types of housing development through relaxed land use standards, technical assistance, and financial incentives (p. 31).

  • 345 Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU)completed.
  • 84 ADUs coming online.
  • Home in Tacoma: The City Council is currently considering a package of policy changes to Tacoma’s Comprehensive Plan—our blueprint for growth—that would allow more duplexes, triplexes, cottages and multifamily buildings throughout the city.

Action 1.9: Establish a dedicated source of funding for the Tacoma Housing Trust Fund. (pp. 32-33)

  • 239 affordable units coming online.
  • 459 affordable units built.
  • Affordable Housing Fund: Resolution 40527 established the City’s Affordable Housing Fund using sales and use tax revenue authorized under Substitute House Bill 1406, providing more capital to developers of Affordable Housing in Tacoma.

AHAS 1.11: Explore innovative, low-cost housing solutions to serve persons experiencing homelessness. (p. 36)

  • Temporary Emergency Micro-Shelter (TEMS): Opened TEMS sites III and IV—tiny house villages that have served 171 clients and exited 35 people to permanent housing. 
  • Since 2017, the City’s Stability Site—a low-barrier emergency shelter of 58 pallet shelter units—has served 515 clients with 113 existing to permanent housing. 

Action 1.12: Explore opportunities for increased staff support during the development review process. (p. 37)

  • Implemented Director’s Rule 01-2021 and 02-2021, establishing an affordable housing priority plan review and pre-development fee waiver policy.
  • Policy Documents and Director’s Rules: In addition to new policies prioritizing affordable housing through the development process, Planning and Development Services has also dedicated a Development Specialist to liaise with affordable housing developers.
  • To learn more about the available incentives for building affordable housing and green sustainable housing in Tacoma, please visit the City's Development Incentives website


Objective 2: Keeping existing housing affordable and in good repair:

  • January 2019–December 2022: 211 units preserved; 11 units in progress
  • 2028 AHAS goal: 2,300 units

Action 2.3: Target existing resources to improve the livability of existing owner-occupied homes. (p. 43)


Objective 3: Helping community members stay in their current housing

  • 2019–December 2022: 49,606 households served with $18,356,144.00
  • 2028 AHAS goal: 1,200 households served

Action 3.1: Expand tenants’ protections through a comprehensive policy. (p. 51)

Action 3.2: Create a range of resources for households experiencing a housing crisis. (p. 52)

  • Assisted 4,817 households with housing assistance totaling over $2.2M, which includes support for damage deposits, first and last month rent, monthly rental subsidy, transportation, utilities, and eviction settlements.
  • In 2020, helped 12,765 customers with Emergency Utility Assistance, administering over $2.29M in funds.
  • Served 4,709 Utility customers through TPU's Bill Credit Assistance Plan with $960,977.00.
  • Served 22,693 utility customers through TPU's Discount Rate Program with $12.86 million. 


Objective 4: Reducing barriers for those who often encounter them

  • January 2019–December 2022: 5,853 people served with $9,072,982.72
  • 671 individuals experiencing homelessness successfully exited to housing.
  • 2028 AHAS goal: 1,000 households served

AHAS 4.1: Streamline processes for households applying for and using rental assistance. (p. 57)

  • Rental Assistance: Provided 1887 households with emergency rental assistance, distributing over $9 million in funds.
  • Exceeded equity goals—serving 68% people of color from 2020 through July 2022.

Action 4.4: Earmark a portion of new or expanded sources of local funding to provide support services in new development. (p. 60)

  • Passed Substitute Ordinance 28747 authorizing the City to collect 1/10 of 1% sales and use tax for affordable housing and behavioral health-related facilities and related services.


AHAS Updates and Presentations to Council 

We regularly provide AHAS updates to the City Council, yet the projects identified in AHAS have additional community engagement and City Council presentations schedules. For more information about specific projects, please visit the project web pages available in the current projects section.


October 2022 Update to Council
April 2022 Update to Council
February 2021 Update to Council 
September 2020 Update to Council
June 2020 Update to Council
July 2019 Update to Council

July 2018 Update to Council

April 2018 Presentation to Council on Proposed Strategy

Affordable Housing Resolutions and Ordinances Passed by City Council

The City Council continues to prioritize affordable housing in its policy decision-making processes. Since 2018 the City has adopted the following legislation to increase housing stability in Tacoma:


Ordinance and Resolutions
Date of Adoption
Resolution NO. 40871

Relates to housing displacement; affirming the City of Tacoma’s support of the use of data-informed tools to prevent displacement of local residents and strongly encourages the City’s partners to use these tools to ensure more residents are able to stay in Tacoma with a focus on households from “low” and “very low” opportunity areas of the City, as well as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color households, and directing the City Manager to evaluate options to assist in preventing displacement of residents.

November 16, 2021
Ordinance NO. 28770

Amends Chapter 6A.110 of the Municipal Code, entitled “Property Tax Exemptions for Multi-Family Housing”, to eliminate the eight-year Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption in mixed-use centers designated “very high” opportunity, based on the City’s Equity Index, effective 90 days after passage of this ordinance.

November 9, 2021
Resolution NO. 40866

Supports the proposed changes to the Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption (“MFTE”), as recommended and approved by the Government Performance and Finance Committee; amending the City’s MFTE to align with state law; eliminating the eight-year MFTE in mixed-use centers designated “very high” opportunity based on the City’s Equity Index; requiring the City Council to revisit the changes to the MFTE program in three years; and directing the City Manager to explore other changes to enhance the City’s use of the MFTE.

November 9, 2021
Ordinance NO. 28780

Amends Chapter 1.95 of the Municipal Code, relating to the Rental Housing Code, to align with new notice requirements in Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1236 and the State of Washington’s Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, to provide additional protections through just cause evictions, and to allow enforcement action.


September 12, 2021
Ordinance NO.  28747

Amends Chapter 6A.70 of the Municipal Code, relating to Local Option Taxes, by adding Section 6A.70.041 entitled “Additional sales or use tax for housing and related services - Imposition” and Section 6A.70.042 entitled “Additional sales or use tax for housing and related services - Rate,” and amending Section 6A.70.120 relating to “Administration and collection of taxes” to authorize the maximum capacity of the tax authorized under the provisions of House Bill 1590 for housing and related services.


March 30, 2021
Resolution NO. 40697

Directs the City Manager to use the Down Payment and Foreclosure Assistance disparity study, to identify disparities or displacement that resulted in disproportionate homeownership and the inaccessibility of communities of color, and particularly Black communities, to build generational wealth; and to provide an update to the City Council within six months, and recommendations no later than August 2021, to include specific budget and policy recommendations to increase Black homeownership in Tacoma, including the potential consideration of dedicating a percentage of all down payment assistance funds to Black residents.


November 24, 2020
Resolution NO. 40527

Establishes the activities and income criteria for the City's Affordable Housing Fund, for the purpose of prioritizing projects that are eligible for funding.


October 15, 2019
Ordinance NO. 28610

Adopts amendments incorporating Tacoma's Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS) into the Housing Element of the One Tacoma Comprehensive Plan, updating housing affordability data, and lending greater policy support for the implementation of the AHAS, as part of the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Regulatory Code for 2019, as recommended by the Planning Commission.


September 24, 2019
Resolution NO. 40429

Amends the Policy for the Sale/Disposition of City owned General Government Real Property to better align with current City goals to increase prioritization for affordable housing and equity.


September 17, 2019 
Substitute Ordinance NO. 28601 

Amends Chapter 6A.70 of the Municipal Code, relating to Local Option Taxes, by adding Section 6A.70.047 entitled "Credit against state's share of tax - sales or use tax for affordable housing - Imposition" and Section 6A.70.048 entitled "Credit against state's share of tax - sales or use tax for affordable housing - Rate," and amending Section 6A.70.120 relating to "Administration and collection of taxes" to authorize the maximum capacity of the tax authorized under the provisions of Substitute House Bill 1406 for affordable and supportive housing; and declaring an emergency, making necessary the passage of this ordinance and it becoming effective immediately.


August 27, 2019
Resolution NO. 40112  A resolution receiving the Affordable Housing Action Strategy to guide enhancement of existing policies and programs, identification and deployment of additional funding, and development of strong anti-displacement measures to stabilize existing residents.
September 25, 2018 


Past Efforts

The Affordable Housing Action Strategy is built on the work of the Affordable Housing Policy Advisory Group, which was formed in 2010 and developed 25 policy recommendations, culminating in 2015 with the adoption of Ordinance No. 28336. While many of the policies from this work have been implemented, more needs to be done to reach our affordability targets.


The work of the AHPAG has informed the City's work to develop the AHAS. The City also factored in details from the Tacoma 2025 strategic visioning framework, the One Tacoma Comprehensive Plan, and other reports into the AHAS which will align with other initiatives.