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The Vida Agency
PSRC Regional Growth Planning graphic with image of Sound Transit Link light rail in motion.

PSRC Regional Growth Planning

Qualitative study for community needs

The Regional Housing Strategy is a “playbook” of actions to preserve, improve, and expand housing stock in the region. The aim is to make a range of affordable, accessible, healthy, and safe housing choices available to every resident and to promote fair and equal access to housing for all people. There is an anticipated need for 880,000 additional housing units in our region in the coming decades.

	 	Sound Transit Bus 595 on street.
Sound Transit link light rail at a station with people exiting the train.

Transportation

Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) hired The Vida Agency (TVA) to conduct a qualitative study of community needs to inform the implementation of the Regional Transportation Plan. We sought to explore the needs of individuals who use our regional transportation system, particularly related to how residents would prefer to get around if improvements were made in the right places.

Research

Surveys and focus groups were designed to address the aim of PSRC and to ensure that our region has “a sustainable, equitable, affordable, safe, and efficient multimodal transportation system with specific emphasis on an integrated regional transit network that supports the Regional Growth Strategy and promotes vitality of the economy, environment, and health.”

Infographic with pie charts of demographics, age, and gender.

Priority Participants: Our engagement effort focused on hard to reach and underrepresented communities, including BIPOC populations, younger adults, and adults with disabilities. Focus groups were designed to enable participants to reflect on key barriers to access, equity, safety, and mobility and make recommendations about how to address gaps in the transportation system to achieve the above stated goals.

Side view of Sound Transit link light rail in fast motion passing by a building.
Back view of person sitting at a covered bus stop with glass broken out of a frame.

Results

  • TVA hosted five (5) virtual community focus groups: one for each county, served by PSRC (King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish) and one focused on young adults (ages 18-25), with efforts to ensure a mix of representation from rural, suburban, and urban areas.
  • 174 individuals registered and provided initial input on their experience and access to various modes of transit. Based on priority participant descriptors and to ensure representation from all four counties, 30 individuals participated in a focus group.
  • Achieved inclusion goals
  • Our research informed the PSRC’s draft of the 2022 Regional Transportation Plan. Hyper-local focus groups allowed us to provide localized insights to policy makers in each county.

Housing

PSRC hired The Vida Agency (TVA) to conduct a focus group study to inform their regional housing strategy. Our objective was to gather community recommendations to help the PSRC create pathways to stable housing, choice, and ownership.

We sought to recruit focus group community members who had experience with housing instability and/or homelessness. Additionally, the focus groups were designed to invite participants to reflect on key barriers to access, equity, safety, and mobility and to make recommendations.

Twenty-four participants were recruited from King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, sixteen of whom had personally experienced homelessness and five of whom work in organizations that serve people with housing instability. We conducted three rounds of discussions (six total sessions) over the course of six months.

Brown houses with green lawn and trees and cars parked out front.

Results

Our research revealed insights into the direct effects of affordable housing policies on human lives. We were able to ground truth regional housing data and enhance existing data with input from people who have experienced the housing system firsthand — those directly impacted by affordable housing. The generous use of direct quotes resulted in a human-centered report.

  • Holding three rounds of engagement with the same participants fostered relationship-building and allowed us to celebrate with participants along their journey to housing stability. This structure provided continuity and deepened our conversations enabling the exploration of nuances, challenges, barriers, and opportunities that would not have been immediately evident.
  • Ongoing summary reporting enabled PSRC to actively iterate on their strategy in between focus groups. This approach created a dialogue between the PSRC and community members, showing that action had been taken based on participants’ stories, building trust, and nurturing relationships based on mutual respect.
  • Our insights informed the development and refinement of the Regional Housing Strategy, which is now being implemented regionwide.
	 	Brown houses with text Regional Housing Strategy Draft.
Demographics pie chart with text 29% African American/Black, 9% Asian/Pacific Islander, 4% Hispanic/Latin, 4% Native American/American Indian, 33% White/Caucasian, and 2% Other.