Tacoma City Council organizes Tacoma Housing Authority on August 16, 1940.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/19/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5473
See Additional Media

On August 16, 1940, the Tacoma City Council votes to organize the Tacoma Housing Authority. Local housing agencies are part of a national program during the Great Depression to eliminate slums, provide low-income housing, and alleviate unemployment. During World War II, the Tacoma Housing Authority will build and manage housing for war workers and military families. After the war, the agency will manage Tacoma's stock of low-income housing.

During the Great Depression (1929-1939) poor housing for Americans impeded economic recovery. In 1937, Congress passed the United States Housing Act which provided for the creation of local public housing authorities to provide "decent, safe, and sanitary dwellings for families" (42 USC 1437) and to replace slums using Federal funds. The construction of the new housing provided employment.

In 1940, the U.S. began preparing for World War II and the new Tacoma Housing Authority elected to address the housing needs of growing military bases and defense industries instead of just low-income groups. When the U.S. entered the war in 1941, Tacoma's population exploded with war workers. Rents increased by 14 percent and vacancies dropped to zero.

As part of the war effort, the Tacoma Housing Authority built several large housing projects in Tacoma, the first and largest of which was Salishan. Lincoln Heights, American Lake Gardens, and Ruston Terrace followed. The agency also managed hotel and dormitory accommodations for war workers.


Amy Loelle Adams, "Historic American Building Survey: Salishan Housing District, Tacoma," Tacoma Housing Authority, (HABS No. WA-219).United States Housing Act 42 U.S.C. sec. 1437.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You