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Changes to MFTE Program

Tacoma City Council Votes to Adopt Proposed Changes to Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program


November 9, 2021



Tanisha Jumper, Media and Communications,tjumper@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-5152
Maria Lee, Media and Communications, maria.lee@cityoftacoma.org, (253) 591-2054


Tacoma City Council Votes to Adopt Proposed Changes
to Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program


TACOMA, Wash. – On November 9, 2021, the Tacoma City Council voted to adopt Resolution 40866 as amended, affirming proposed changes to the City’s Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program. Resolution 40866 – sponsored by District 1 Council Member John Hines, At-Large Council Member Lillian Hunter, District 2 Council Member Robert Thoms and At-Large Council Member Kristina Walker – expands the geographic area where financial incentives will be allowed for the construction of multifamily housing that provides affordable units.

The Government Performance and Finance Committee (GPFC) had concluded its review of the City’s MFTE program, and Council Member Hines had presented GPFC’s recommendations at the Council Study Session, on November 2, 2021.

“I want to thank the members of GPFC for their diligence and commitment to a full examination of the MFTE policy in our committee,” said Council Member Hines, chair of GPFC.  “We began this discussion back in March, and I am proud that we took the time to give the policy its needed development time. I think the process we undertook – to engage the development and lending community, discuss multiple policy options, and stay focused on our goal of encouraging the development of affordable housing – can serve as a model for further committee work.” 

“We know that Tacoma has an incredible need for more housing, especially affordable housing,” said Council Member Walker. “The MFTE program continues to be a great tool to incentivize housing, and the work that GPFC did to expand opportunities – in conjunction with new state laws – will make a difference in the amount of affordable housing that is built in Tacoma.” 

“As the Economic Development Committee (EDC) chair, I am eager to expand the use of the MFTE program and appreciate the thoughtfulness of these changes,” said Council Member Thoms. “The Council should continue to find ways to expand the use for more housing at all levels.” 

Outreach to the development community and input gathered from Tacoma residents have been substantial, and the changes to the City’s MFTE program are projected to reduce inequities by accommodating residential growth in alignment with the requirements of the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMA is a series of state statutes, first adopted in 1990, that requires fast-growing cities and counties to develop a comprehensive plan to manage their population growth.

“I wanted to commend John Hines and GPFC for seeking feedback from the development community regarding the current and proposed structure of the City’s MFTE program,” said developer Cathy Reines.  “It is rare for a city to seek out developer feedback before modifying policies that could impact new projects and by default, in this instance, affordable housing in the city. In this case, John not only sought out our opinion, but listened and developed a strategy that I believe to be in the best interests of the community as a whole.”  

“I appreciate the opportunity to discuss and contribute to changes made to the City’s MFTE program,” said developer Steve Novotny. “This program will help establish more affordable housing in Tacoma, and gives developers a tremendous opportunity to partner with the City. I feel a tremendous commitment to the success of Tacoma, as it’s been my home for over 35 years.” 

“I am excited the City is taking the time and reaching out to the community to see what will really make a difference in the housing needs for Tacoma,” said developer Scott Carino.

“Affordable, attainable, and accessible housing are a clear need in Tacoma and a priority of this Council, and we must exercise all the tools available to us,” said Mayor Victoria Woodards. “While MFTE’s may have originally been created to drive development and economic growth, I believe we can use policies like this to advance our housing goals as well.”

Details regarding the City’s MFTE program are available on the City’s website. Program questions can be directed to Debbie Bingham at dbingham@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5117.