Tacoma faith leaders prepared and delivered to City Hall this week a report to the Tacoma City Council supporting specific Council action in response to Tacoma’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis. The report – Housing Hope – highlights four specific priorities for adoption as part of Tacoma’s Affordable Housing Action Strategy: (Download a copy of the report here.)
- The prioritization of housing at 0-30% of the Area Median Income;
- The development of ordinances that support the preservation of existing affordable housing and the protection of tenants;
- Passage of mandatory inclusionary zoning in all multifamily zones in Tacoma;
- The development of a local Housing Trust Fund with seed funding from the City of Tacoma.
“The wellbeing of the most vulnerable is the central moral test of our city,” said Martha Ward, member of the Associated Ministries board of directors; “it is critical that Tacoma take bold action to ensure dignity in housing for all of our neighbors.”
The report is the product of a research process organized by local faith community leaders this summer, convened by Associated Ministries. Its aim was to develop greater understanding in the faith community of the structural challenges of housing affordability and homelessness, and to lift up specific policies the City can enact in response.
“It’s beyond denial that we have a housing affordability crisis and alarming growth in homelessness throughout the Puget Sound region,” says Mike Yoder, Executive Director of AM, “but faith community leaders see this crisis playing out daily in the lives of members, neighbors and those who visit churches for meals, shelter, and other services offered by local faith communities. Many faith leaders we work with feel compelled to act boldly to ensure that Tacoma has a home for all.”
“Our churches often do great work meeting short term needs, but in the midst of this crisis, our faith calls us to do more than feed the poor, but to ‘do justice’. Loving our neighbors means asking why our neighbors are suffering, why they are homeless, displaced, evicted, discriminated against. We see that so many of the problems are structural, so we believe that the response needs to be structural too,” said Dr. Eric Jackson, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church on Tacoma’s Eastside.
Associated Ministries is calling on local clergy to “sign on” to show their support for this report and its recommendations, thereby amplifying the voices of the faith community in matters such as this. To indicate your willingness to sign on, please contact Sandy Windley at AM: firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-426-1506.
Members of local faith communities who would like to learn more about being a part of AM’s “Moral Voice Task Force” are also encouraged to contact Sandy Windley at the numbers above.