A new report, commissioned by the City of Tacoma and paid for by a transportation grant, found that low-income Hilltop residents cannot keep up with the rising cost of rent in the neighborhood that is in the early stages of gentrification.

This week city council leaders looked at how the transit expansion and economic development in the hilltop could impact housing costs and price out residents.

“The housing crisis has been there for a long time, and now we’re living it every day,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland at Tuesday’s City Council Study Session.

Alexandra Waller-Robinson said she grew up on the Hilltop in the 1990s on 23rd and Grant.

“Back then, it was a forgotten place, but there was so much life here. Everybody knew who you were and what family you belonged to,” she said.

Waller Robinson said some people she knows and loves are feeling the effects of gentrification.

“There are homeowners here from when I was a child who are struggling to maintain to still keep their home and property here,” she said.

As one suggestion, the study recommends the city develop affordable housing on city-owned land.

“There have been repeated attempts over decades to try to revitalize the hilltop neighborhood to stabilize and bring investment and services. But with investment and services also comes a neighborhood that can change. And we want to make sure that as the Hilltop neighborhood evolves, that we do so in a way that is inclusive, that doesn’t displace people but at the same time bringing much-needed investment and services to a neighborhood that has historically struggled for a long time,” said Strickland

Waller Robinson believes the neighborhood can be protected before it’s too late

“It’s changing in so many different ways, and life is leaving - the people who grew up here, who made their lives here, who built their families here, who build their names here. I believe if we come together and tell them how much we need it, how much we want it, we can have an impact," said Robinson.

Related links:

Tacoma City Council Hilltop proposal