Tacoma Housing Authority boosts worker pay to keep pace with housing costs

Tacoma Housing Authority announced Tuesday that its board of directors approved a resolution to boost its employees’ minimum pay to $32 an hour so they can better afford the cost of housing in Tacoma. 

The agency did not disclose how much employees were being paid prior to the raise, but it did say in a news release that the increase was “substantially more than the competitive market rate.”

The pay bump means that all 174 Tacoma Housing Authority employees will now earn a “housing wage,” according to the release. Prior to the increase, 60% of THA’s employees were making less than $32 an hour, which means roughly 104 employees will get a raise.

The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom market-rate apartment in Tacoma is $1,643, according to THA. In order to afford this amount of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of one’s income — a household must earn $5,477 per month, or $65,720 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, that translates to an hourly wage of $31.60.

Housing is considered to be affordable if it costs no more than 30% of a household’s monthly income.

“All of our employees contribute to our mission of providing stable and sustainable housing for all, yet many of our team members have struggled to pay their bills or find housing they can afford in the city (where) we ask them to work,” Executive Director April Black said in the release. “We work to find solutions to housing insecurity and poverty; we cannot afford to contribute to the problem.”

The minimum wage in Tacoma is $15.74 an hour.

According to THA’s 2023 affordable housing income guidelines, the area median income (AMI) in Tacoma is $75,250 annually. An individual earning $60,200 or less makes 80% of the AMI and is eligible for certain types of affordable housing.

Andrew Calkins, director of policy and intergovernmental affairs for the King County Housing Authority, told the Business Journal last year that an individual in King County must earn $32 an hour to afford a market-rate, one-bedroom apartment. Calkins based those figures on data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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