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Racism creates barriers to housing. We must work together to remove them.

You have probably heard us say where your home is—or is not—plays a big role in your healthYour zip code plays a role in how long you’re likely to live, your risk of chronic disease, how likely you are to live in poverty, and much more. And living without a stable home can cause significant harm.

Good, affordable housing has become harder to find in Pierce County. That’s especially true for our communities of color, who have already suffered more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pierce County needs more affordable housing to improve the health of all our communities. That’s why we work closely with community partners and policymakers on housing solutions.

The many ways COVID-19 harms us.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts many Pierce County residents at risk of having nowhere to stay. Work disruptions, unpaid sick leave and loss of income have made it hard for people to pay rent. For some, living in a shelter or the streets is the only choice.

County and community leaders worked to prevent temporary evictions, but many people still struggle.

Pierce County’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities are at the highest risk of eviction, homelessness, and long-term poverty. These factors determine much of your health and wellbeing.

Housing Solutions Lab reported recent declines in Black homeownership rates across Pierce County between 2000-2019, including:

  • Tacoma: -10%.
  • Lakewood: -2%.
  • South Hill: -10%.

Nearly 700 fewer homes in Tacoma were owned by Black families in 2019 than in 2000.

Our COVID-19 Health Assessment shows the pandemic’s harm in Pierce County’s BIPOC communities. Lack of housing continues to lead to higher rates of homelessness.

History of unfair housing.

Our region and the U.S. have lived with unfair housing policies and practices for decades. Even when Black and Indigenous people became citizens, they didn’t have the same access to housing grants as white people.

Polices like racial segregationred-lining and exclusionary zoning prioritized housing and homeownership for white families. As a result, rates of homeownership, homelessness, and wealth-building still fall along racial lines.

Census data from 2019 shows Washington’s homeownership rate for white households is at 67%, while home ownership for Latinx households is 45% and 31% for Black households.

Better health in Pierce County depends on affordable housing.

We must act now to end discriminatory housing policies.

We support work to assist and speak out for people at risk of losing their housing. That includes groups like Tacoma’s internal Anti-Displacement Workgroup, the Pierce County Affordable Housing Workgroup and others.

Without significant and urgent policy responses, our communities of color across Pierce County remain at risk of losing their housing —and the poor health outcomes we know can be the result.

Helping residents find housing they can afford is one of our policy priorities. We encourage elected officials and communities to support more housing choices.

Read more about our policy approach to affordable housing and racial equity and justice. And subscribe to the Your Reliable Source blog to learn more about housing and other issues that affect your health.