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Sen. Cantwell Highlights Pierce County Affordable Housing Shortage, Pushes For Tax Credit Extension

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Ashley Gross
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KPLU
Low-income housing tax credits were one source of funding that Tacoma Housing Authority tapped to build the Bay Terrace affordable housing development

Seattle’s affordable housing shortage has been in the headlines lately, but according to a report from Senator Maria Cantwell, the situation is even worse in Pierce County. Cantwell stopped in Tacoma to push for an expansion of a tax credit program to build more affordable housing.

Cantwell visited Bay Terrace Apartments, a mixed-income development built by Tacoma Housing Authority and paid for in part with federal tax credits that fund low-income housing construction. Cantwell wants to expand that program by 50 percent. She says that would make it possible to build an extra 4,000 low-income housing units in Washington state over the next decade. She says she’s planning to visit other parts of the country including New York and Chicago to push for the expansion and she’s hopeful she can persuade Republicans to back the plan.

“I don’t think our economy is as strong as everybody thinks it is at this moment and I think this housing thing is a part of the puzzle and we want to see if we get all these communities talking about it if we won’t get the support to get it done,” said Cantwell.

Compared with the rest of the state, Pierce County has the lowest number of available units for extremely low-income households. There are fewer pots of money to tap to build affordable housing in Pierce County, according to low-income housing experts. One big difference – Seattle has a housing levy and Tacoma doesn’t.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.