Housing Authority to open new low-income development

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Tacoma Housing Authority will hold a formal grand opening on Aug. 7 for a 144-unit, affordable housing complex in the city’s Hilltop neighborhood. The complex enters the stock of lower-income housing options at a time when housing prices are rapidly outpacing income growth.

“If it were food, we would have widespread malnutrition with pockets of starvation,” said THA Executive Director Michael Mirra.

The city is short some 18,000 housing units, according to federal statistics, which shows a family would have to make $31,000 a year to afford a studio, or $40,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. Adding those units to lower the housing gap means higher density.

“We see that as a design challenge,” Mirra said. “We try to show that density can look lovely.”

Senator Patty Murray, Congressmen Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer will be on hand to help the housing agency, residents and neighbors celebrate the completion of the second phase of Bay Terrace, located at the corner of South 27th and G streets that strived to prove that concept. The complex has shade trees, follows environmentally responsible design principles and offers outdoor play areas, a half-court basketball hoop and picnic spaces as well as garden area for its residents. Each floor has a reading area with chairs, tables and children’s books as well.

The first phase, which included 74 apartments and townhomes, opened about two years ago and prompted construction of this latest phase. The ribbon-cutting program for this $25 million phase will start at 1 p.m. on Aug. 7 and include remarks from residents, community leaders, and others who made the project work as well as have live music, refreshments and self-guided tours.

The housing authority had demolished 104 old and unsightly public housing units and replaced them with a new community that includes one, two and three-bedroom units for various incomes. The community is within walking distance of the planned Link light rail station that is set to come as part of Sound Transit 2’s expansion of the system that currently runs from the Freighthouse Square station to the Theater District. The light rail expansion will eventually loop up to Martin Luther King Jr. Way and run to South 19th Street.

Absher Construction Co. served as the general contractor and GGLO Architects, LLC designed the facility.

THA is an independent municipal corporation formed under Washington state law and governed by a five-member board of commissioners who are appointed by the mayor. It manages a dozen housing communities that total more than 1,300 units around the city. THA has no taxing authority and receives no regular operating funds from the City of Tacoma or the State of Washington, however. Most of its funding for programs and projects comes from rents that it charges to its tenants, fees that it earns in administering its various programs, subsidies from the federal government for its federal programs, developer fees that it earns when it builds or rebuilds, and grants from public and private sources.

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