$4.5 million secured for new affordable housing, jobs in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood

Major developments are in the works for Tacoma’s historic Hilltop Neighborhood. U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer helped secure $4.5 million in federal funds that will support new affordable housing options, economic growth and a revitalization of the community.

Hilltop is so special to the people who live and work in the neighborhood. Community members said they are so excited the area is finally getting some new developments because they feel it is often overlooked and underserved. 

Hilltop has been home for much of Tacoma’s Black community for generations. The federal funds will soon pay for new affordable housing and new job opportunities.

"Investing the resources in the areas that have been traditionally underserved. And so when we’re closing those resource gaps and creating those pathways for opportunities, there are so many young folks of promise that are going to just thrive and shine because now they have those access and families now have access who have traditionally been pushed out," said L. Denice Randle, executive director of Peace Community Center.

Peace Community Center is a nonprofit organization located in Hilltop focusing on education for children in the neighborhood. Staff members said the investment to revitalize the neighborhood is an investment in the kids who will benefit from the upcoming developments.

"Opportunities for youth to be able to grow in the ways they want to grow and be able to give back in the ways that they find most meaningful," said Miranda Martens, interim development director for Peace Community Center.

"It’s also important that we are intentionally investing in and identifying black communities—housing opportunities employment opportunities. So, prioritizing and investment in BIPOC businesses is important for our scholars to be able to see those connections and leaders of color in our community and the foundational dollars that are being tied in," said Randle.

$3 million will support the Hilltop Housing and Commercial project for Tacoma Housing Authority. The construction project will provide about 200 affordable housing units and space for BIPOC owned businesses.

"When scholars can see that there are folks that look like them, who are leading businesses and owning businesses in their community, It helps create a pathway of opportunities for them," said Randle.

The remaining $1.5 million will pay for the Hilltop Attainable Housing and Business Development project. It will a mixed-use space for businesses, homes and a hub to celebrate the culture that has made the neighborhood historic.

"Being that is a historical Black neighborhood, I would like for our students to recognize what their legacy in this community really means, and to continue to allow them to be a part of that legacy by providing with the necessary tools and resources to do so," said Tashawn Deville, middle school interim program manager for Peace Community Center. 

A nonprofit called Forterra is leading one of the construction projects. The group plans to develop four buildings with about 150 rental units and another 150 cooperative ownership model units.

The end goal is to finish all of the new developments in Hilltop by 2024. U.S. Representative Kilmer offers more background information on his website.

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