New Salishan Development

New Salishan is THA’s largest community. It has about 1,350 households. About 1,000 of them are low-income households who rent their homes from THA or its nonprofit partners; the remaining Salishan households are homeowners with a wide range of incomes.

THA built New Salishan as a HOPE VI redevelopment of an old, worn-out public housing community. It is now a walkable mixed-income community of apartments, townhomes and single-family homes, an elementary school, a middle school next door, a regional primary health clinic, neighborhood playgrounds, and community gardens, all on an award-winning design, wrapped by a 370-acre Swan Creek Park.

New Salishan is also the region’s most diverse community. It is diverse by factors that in other parts of the housing market are segregating factors. At New Salishan, they are integrating factors: homeowner/renter, race, income, language, national origin, ethnicity, age, and ability/disability.

History and Overview of the Redevelopment Effort

Below is an overview of the Salishan Redevelopment:

New Salishan: Celebrating 20 Years

The Tacoma Historical Society produced this short documentary honoring the 20th anniversary of New Salishan. The film features interviews with THA partners, commissioners, and executive directors past and present and was first shared with those in attendance at the 14th Annual Destiny Dinner, which took place at the Eastside Community Center on April 2, 2022. The event honored those who made New Salishan possible; Michael Mirra, recently retired Executive Director of Tacoma Housing Authority, was honored with the 2022 Star of Destiny Award for his leadership role in the project.

The Tacoma Historical Society provided this synopsis of the film:

In 2002, a planned community for affordable housing and homeownership in the Salishan area of the East Side was nothing more than an architect’s rendering on a sheet of paper pinned to a wall at the Tacoma Housing Authority’s office. The challenge for the Housing Authority was how to parlay a $36 million Hope VI federal grant into a $300 million finished product. Then a visionary THA board and the transformative leadership of Executive Director Michael Mirra and his talented staff got to work. By 2007, the remarkable success of Tacoma’s New Salishan Community had made the front page of the New York Times. By 2015, New Salishan had garnered a total of 12 local, regional, and national awards for excellence. It was described as simply the most remarkable achievement of its kind in the nation.

Salishan – Past Present & Future

The Salishan documentary was produced by Bryan Johnson, a teacher at Lister Elementary School, and his fifth-grade class during the 2002-03 school year. Lister Elementary School is in the community of Salishan and many of its students are Salishan residents. Lister was completely rebuilt in 1999, shortly before Salishan’s own reconstruction began. It is a jewel of the Tacoma Public School District and an important part of the Salishan redevelopment. 

Mr. Johnson’s students wrote the script, conducted and translated the interviews, read the narration, and played some of the music on the soundtrack. They created the artwork, took the photographs, and filmed the video that is featured in the documentary. Mr. Johnson completed the post-production at Lister’s own broadcast studio. 

The documentary shows scenes of Salishan before its old housing units were demolished and before redevelopment of the community began. Through the documentary, the students and the people they interview express their deep affection for Salishan and their hopes for its future.