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Tacoma tries new affordable-housing plan

The plan requires builders to include affordable units in new projects in the Tacoma Mall area.

The Tacoma City Council approved a plan to boost affordable housing in the Tacoma Mall area Tuesday night. It requires builders of apartment complexes with more than 15 units to set aside 10 percent of those units for affordable housing. The plan targets people who make approximately half the median income in Tacoma, about $26,000.

It's the first time the city has approved an affordable-housing requirement for builders. It's called the Tacoma Mall Subarea Plan.

The measure had the full support of the former residents of the Tiki apartments in who rallied outside of City Hall Tuesday.

"We are a group of tenants and supporters who have joined together in response to the housing crisis in Tacoma," said Donna Seay.

While city leaders are helping displaced Tiki residents get back on their feet, residents are also focused on new policies to protecting affordable housing in Tacoma.

"I think it would be a good impact just to have affordable housing throughout the city of Tacoma. We need it's really bad. It's a beautiful neighborhood. Everybody could use affordable housing and I know I could use it. I believe it's a beautiful area. It's a bus line right there. It's safe," said Andrea McCullough.

But some landlords claim the plan would add to the cost of building in the city.

"The word mandatory is a red flag to developers. Affordable and attainable housing to all income levels is ultimately tied to zoning. Tacoma is taking bad policies which as failed in other major cities and expecting them to be the solution here," said Jessie Gamble, Government Affairs Manager for the Master Builders Association.

The council approved the plan anyway.

"This is the first time this community has debated and is moving forward on an inclusionary, affordable housing policy granted for one part of the neighborhood and I hear very clearly from a lot of constituents that they're eager for us to tackle a similar kind of policy across the city. That might not look exactly like how it is here in the Tacoma Mall area. We may have different inclusionary affordable housing policies in different parts of the community so that they work in different markets," said Tacoma Councilman Ryan Mello.