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Tacoma residents shape future of Hilltop by designing affordable housing

Residents with roots in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood are being priced out as Seattle’s housing crisis spills into the community. Now, grassroots organizations are teaming up to help residents design a place that’s affordable.

TACOMA, Wash. — There is a discussion about the future of affordable housing happening in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.

Community leaders with the grassroots organization Fab-5 teamed up with the Tacoma Housing Authority to make sure residents in the neighborhood are at the center of helping design up to 250 new affordable housing units in Tacoma.

On Wednesday, residents gathered at Fab-5 for the first of three Design the Hill design labs where the community can get hands-on with shaping community spaces, first-floor business spaces, and anything else they would like to see in the community.

"Community members from Hilltop are coming together to talk about what is their vision for the community,” said Chris Paul Jordan, a local artist and co-director of Fab-5. 

"You are a designer. You're an expert on your neighborhood; you know what you need,” Jordan continued.

Gentrification has left many residents with roots in the neighborhood looking to reclaim their space.

"I just want to see how we can make this space ours," said Bella Pasillas. "I'm seeing all of the minimalistic, like a lot of metal, a lot of recycled wood. But I’m actually wanting to see buildings that feel alive, that they don't look really quickly slapped together." 

The goal of the Design the Hill program is for the community to be in the process every step of the way. 

"It's crucial that we have spaces for black folks and people of color to be able to live and thrive, and affordable housing is a really important part of that strategy,” said Jordan.

Two more design labs are scheduled for March 30 and April 10. Click here for more information.