Tacoma's Salishan: A Safe and Affordable Alternative

Once a blighted and crime-ridden community of public housing in Tacoma, Washington - today, the area known as Salishan, is redeveloping into a stable, mixed-income neighborhood. Linda Baker's recent article in the New York Times highlights the impact Salishan has had on residents both old and new.

Located near jobs and downtown Tacoma, Salishan offers a wide variety of housing styles and prices that make transportation affordable and convenient. The development's initial phase of Hope VI housing opened to the public last year, which included 90 market-rate houses, 40 below-market-rate houses for sale to people with incomes less than 60 percent of the city's median income ($49,584), and 300 subsidized rental units.

The entire project will be completed in 2009 and will, in sum, give way to 250 market-rate houses, 100 below-market-rate houses, and 815 subsidized rentals.

Designed by the architecture firm of Torti Gallas & Partners, houses are equipped with new urbanist features like front porches and surrounded by green courtyards. New development has significantly raised the area's property values, yet this gentrification has not come at the expense of long-time residents. One new resident points out that "had we (family) purchased regular tract housing, there wouldn't be such a sense of community. There is so much knowledge to be gained from all the different people here."

Currently, over half of the 40 below-market home - priced between $130,000 and $219,000 - are inhabited by long-time residents who have seen the area's ups and downs. For them, the sharp decline of crime has trumped any concern about an influx of new residents. In its highly-stigmatized day - 1990 - 331 vilent crimes were reported in one year. Just last month no violent crimes were reported in this economically and ethnically diverse community.


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