top of page

The Intersection of Race, Social Justice, and Housing in Pierce County

Advancing Equity and Justice Through Affordable Housing Initiatives

Affordable housing is more than just a basic necessity—it’s crucial to the fight for social and racial justice. In Pierce County, the struggle for affordable housing intersects deeply with issues of race, impacting marginalized communities at a disproportionate rate. This Affordable Housing Week, we delve into the statistics that shed light on these disparities and explore how equitable housing policies can pave the way for a more just society.

The Stark Reality of Housing Inequity in Pierce County:

Pierce County, like many areas across the nation, exhibits significant racial disparities in housing. Communities of color in Pierce County face systemic obstacles that white households often do not.  For instance, due to a host of systemic factors including access to education, Black households in Tacoma have the lowest median income compared to all the other races/ethnicities, making it harder to afford housing (EcoNorthwest, 2021). Specifically, 20% of Black households and 16% of Latino households in the U.S. are categorized as extremely low-income renters, compared to only 6% of white non-Latino households (NLICH, 2019).

The issue is compounded by historical and ongoing discriminatory practices such as redlining and unequal lending practices. For example, Black and Latino or Hispanic individuals are not only more likely to be shown fewer housing options. Still, they are also more likely to rely on high-interest financial services due to their neighborhoods' lack of banking infrastructure. This financial marginalization extends further into housing, where people of color often face higher rates of homelessness and housing instability.

The Benefits of Racially Inclusive Housing:

Creating racially inclusive, mixed-income neighborhoods isn't just about fairness or equity—it benefits everyone. Studies show that residents of diverse neighborhoods are less prejudiced, better able to work in diverse environments and possess broader social networks. Moreover, diversity fosters innovation and collective intelligence, crucial for community and economic growth.

Addressing the Crisis:

The affordable housing crisis in Pierce County, and indeed nationally, is marked by a severe shortage of accessible, low-cost rentals and entry-level homes. To meet the needs of the lowest-income residents, the county needs to produce more than 2,300 units annually at or below 50% of the area median income through 2044. This shortage hits communities of color hardest, where the rate of incarceration and subsequent barriers to housing and employment further exacerbate access to stable housing. 

Addressing these issues requires comprehensive strategies that include:

  • Fair Housing Efforts: Enforcing and strengthening policies to combat housing discrimination and ensuring equitable treatment in housing availability.

  • Equitable Development: Promoting development practices that ensure affordable housing units are included in new developments.

  • Anti-Displacement: Implementing strategies to support residents at risk of displacement due to gentrification or economic pressures.

Efforts in Pierce County are supported by various organizations committed to racial equity and housing justice, including the Tacoma Urban League, Mi Centro, Peace Community Center, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, Tacoma Action Collective, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Human Rights Commission. These partnerships are vital in pushing the agenda of affordable and equitable housing.

This Affordable Housing Week, we call on stakeholders from all sectors to advocate for fair and inclusive housing policies. Support community-led efforts to combat displacement, engage in anti-racist housing initiatives, and help ensure that every member of our community has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. Your voice and action can help transform our housing systems and make our communities more equitable.

In Pierce County and beyond, the path to racial and social justice is intertwined with how we address the housing needs of our communities. By advancing equitable housing solutions, we take a significant step towards dismantling systemic barriers and building a more inclusive society.

Join Us:

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit the Affordable Housing Consortium and Affordable Housing Week’s official pages and partner with local organizations making a difference. Together, we can ensure that affordable housing is a reality for all, not just a privilege for some.

Take a look at our informational flyer to learn more about how social justice intersects with

affordable housing in Pierce County.

A special thanks to US Bank for being the title sponsor of Pierce County Affordable Housing Week 2024. Your support is invaluable to our community.


bottom of page