The City of Tacoma seeks to hire a consultant to help Tacoma evaluate options to address the city’s growing shortage of affordable housing and deliver recommendations on best ways to move forward.

The consultant is sought as part of the city’s Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS) and the city’s launch of the At Home In Tacoma project to evaluate diverse housing types and inclusionary zoning options throughout Tacoma. The intent is to increase housing supply, create affordable housing options, and increase the choice of housing types throughout Tacoma neighborhoods, according to city documents.

More than 18,600 renters and 14,000 owners in the city experience housing cost burdens, meaning a household pays more than 30 percent of its gross income on housing, including utilities. Cost-burdened households have less for other essentials, like food, clothing, transportation, and medical care, according to the city.

“The cost of rental homes increased by nearly 40 percent and home values nearly doubled since 1990, and within the last few years, these costs have begun to accelerate,” according to the AHAS. “Simply put, the city’s housing supply cannot meet the daily needs of its residents, and this needs to change.”

Guided by the AHAS, the city will dramatically increase its investments in new rental and homeownership opportunities and establish broader anti-displacement measures, including preserving affordable units at-risk of converting to market-rate rent, and creating comprehensive protections for renters, the AHAS says.

The approach has the potential to produce 6,000 new affordable units; preserve 2,300 existing affordable units; and serve an additional 2,200 households by 2028. In total, these new or preserved homes and new services or programs will reach 10,500 households living in Tacoma, the AHAS says.

The consultant will help implement Tacoma’s AHAS. A city website contains links to past and upcoming meetings about AHAS.

Tacoma’s Planning Commission is asking the community to join in a discussion about housing needs, development trends, zoning, and neighborhood change.

According to the RFP, the public portion of the project is expected to run from now until June 2021, and will generally consist of four phases. The consultant will work closely with the city during each phase, provide pertinent subject matter expertise, policy analysis, communication, and public engagement support throughout the project. In addition, the consultant will perform tasks in each of the following project phases: Communication and Engagement Strategy, Existing Conditions and Assessment, Developing High Level Growth Options and Strategies, and Recommend Growth Strategy and Housing Alternatives.

The contract will be for a two-year period with the option to renew for three additional one-year periods.

The deadline to respond to the RFP is 11 a.m., March 3.