Tacoma Housing Authority creates minimum wage of $32 per hour

Aug 18, 2023, 12:37 PM

tacoma measure...

Downtown Tacoma and the port, as seen from the LeMay-America's Car Museum. (George Rose, Getty Images)

(George Rose, Getty Images)

The Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) increased its minimum hourly wage to at least $32 per hour for all employees this week.

THA Executive Director April Black said in a news release Thursday she was concerned that some employees weren’t making enough money. The minimum wage increase was intended to help employees better afford housing in Tacoma.

“We work to find solutions to housing insecurity and poverty. We cannot afford to contribute to the problem,” Black explained.

Dave Ross commentary: A bullet train is great, but affordable housing is much better

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Tacoma is $1,643.

To afford this level of rent and utilities without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $5,477 monthly or $65,720 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week and 52 weeks per year, this income level translates to a minimum hourly housing wage of $31.60.

“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 we ask them to work,” Black said. “We work to find solutions to housing insecurity and poverty; we cannot afford to contribute to the problem.”

More housing news: Seattle City Council passes laws to increase volume of affordable housing

The lowest-paid workers at THA will now be making substantially more than the competitive market rate. The Seattle Times reported that Tacoma Housing isn’t aware of any other housing authority in the country with a similar policy on salaries. For context, the paper noted the state of Washington’s minimum wage, which covers Tacoma, is $15.74. Seattle’s is $18.69.

It is the hope of the THA leadership team that this increase will have a positive ripple effect throughout the job market of Tacoma and the local economy.

The THA board of commissioners approved the resolution on July 26.

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Tacoma Housing Authority creates minimum wage of $32 per hour