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Planning Council surveys displaced residents to better understand factors prompting moves

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About one of every four households that moved in the past five years within King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties said they relocated for one or more negative reasons. By far, the cost of housing was the top reason, according to findings in the 2019 PSRC Household Travel Survey, a program of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).

Other negative reasons displaced survey respondents cited for forcing their move included financial instability/change in income, or loss of community/redevelopment.

Researchers found people of color were displaced at a higher rate than non-Hispanic whites. Disparities were most pronounced for African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and multi-racial households.

Whites were more likely to give positives reasons for moving, notably more space (the No. 1 reason), better schools, or to live in an area with less crime.

PSRC found gaps along racial lines when analyzing the top reasons for moving. While close to half (46%) of white people said that gaining more spaces was a factor in their last move, only around 30% of people of color cited more space as a factor.

Brian Lee, principal planner at the PSRC, said displacement spans the four-county area. “It’s not just a Seattle problem or a King County problem,” he stated.

PSRC developed a Displacement Risk Index tool in 2018, which was used in its VISION 2050 plan. It is a composite of five indicators of displacement risks: socio-demographics, transportation qualities, neighborhood characteristics, housing, and civic engagement. PSRC applied the data to create mapping within the region’s census tracks that shows varying levels of displacement risk.

Lee said the primary focus of the Household Travel Survey is transportation, but the displacement questions were added to help PSRC better understand who is being displaced and from where. The survey is intended to help PSRC and communities regionwide make planning decisions.

More than 3,000 households took part in the 2019 travel survey. They represented a cross section of the region’s demographics and income levels. The spring 2019 survey is part of a six-year program for three waves (two-year survey cycles). Earlier surveys were done in 2017, 2014, and 2006, with the final save planned for 2021.

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