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Tacoma plan aims to boost affordability and diversity of housing

The goal of 'Home in Tacoma' is to increase the variety of types of homes available, through rezoning and other measures.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma is working on a new plan that could make buying a home more affordable. First-time homebuyers have struggled to buy homes in the city due to skyrocketing prices and lower supply.

But city leaders hope the Home in Tacoma project can begin to reverse that trend.

Currently, most of Tacoma’s residential areas are zoned for single-family units, but the project aims to rezone these areas to allow multiple family units, such as duplexes or townhouses, to be built in these areas as well.

“When you think about our housing ecosystem, it’s kind of like a game of musical chairs, and there aren’t enough chairs for the people that are trying to play,” said Jacques Colon, 2025 Strategic Manager for the City of Tacoma. “And so when we’re talking about this project, we really are just talking about creating the conditions for more units to be put into the housing market, or more chairs into the game.”

Housing advocates say it’s a necessary step in the right direction.

“We need more of every kind of housing, and this will allow for a more appropriate density of appropriate sizes and kinds of housing,” said Maureen Fife, CEO of Tacoma-Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. “The high costs of home sales lately are reflective of too short of a supply of actual housing.”

Rising home prices aren’t unique to Tacoma. Numbers from the National Association of Home Builders show that over 72% of Washington’s households are priced out of being able to qualify for a mortgage.

Advocates say that providing affordable housing for people is critical, and it should be made a priority to avoid the alternative.

“If you don’t have any place to live, you adapt with strategies we see on the sidewalks of the parks,” said Michael Mirra, Executive Director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “People are living in tents.”

Tacoma leaders have also said that while change doesn’t happen overnight, they are committed to moving quickly.

The Tacoma City Council aims to take action on the proposals in the project this June, and is working to update zoning and development standards so the city can begin moving in this new direction by this December.

“We also need to pair this policy with things like affordability incentives and other policies that don’t just encourage growth but encourages growth in housing at multiple price points, so we are helping to house people across the economic spectrum,” Colon said.