Cost of housing top reason for displacement

People of color and renters hardest hit, according to household travel survey

More than 3,000 households in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties took part in the 2019 PSRC Household Travel Survey.

One of the questions asked on the survey was why people moved from their previous homes. About a quarter of households that moved in the past five years within the four-county region reported that they relocated for one or more negative reasons (also called displacement): cost of housing, forced to move, change in income, or loss of community. Cost of housing was by far the top reason.

People of color reported displacement factors for their moves at a higher rate than non-Hispanic whites, particularly for housing costs and being forced to move. The broad category “people of color” was used due to limited sample sizes.

Evidence in the data suggests disparities are even worse for African-Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and multi-racial households.

In contrast, whites were more likely to give positive reasons for moving, such as more space or better schools.

PSRC developed a Displacement Risk Index tool in 2018. The tool was used in the VISION 2050 plan.

Movers’ previous residences were mapped in the tool for the first time. Their responses confirmed the Index tool: more than a third of the households that relocated from areas of higher displacement risk had negative reasons for moving (such as income change). People moving from lower-risk areas were less likely to report displacement.

The Displacement Risk Map below shows the areas of higher, moderate and lower risk.

Five displacement indicators (socio-demographics, transportation qualities, neighborhood characteristics, housing, and civic engagement) were compiled into an index of displacement risk for all census tracts in the region.

PSRC also sliced the data by household size and housing tenure.

The 2019 survey data confirms a well-documented phenomenon about housing tenure: renters are much more likely than homeowners to be displaced.

In both cases, though, housing cost was the most common displacement factor, with roughly 60% of renters and owners selecting this reason if they were displaced.

When it came to household size, one-person households cited displacement factors at a higher rate than others.

One reason may be that larger households are more likely to have multiple income sources.

Displacement is truly a regional phenomenon. Across the region and its counties, displacement was reported at statistically the same rate (within the margin of error). Kitsap and Snohomish counties were combined because their mover sample sizes were too small to report individually.

Roughly 60% of displaced households cited the cost of housing as a reason for their move within the region. About 16% of all movers reported cost as a factor. Those numbers are similar across the sub-areas.

As for the other three displacement factors, around one-fifth of the displaced households, or about 5% of all movers, reported each of those. They were chosen at a similar rate throughout the region.

A total of 3,044 households took part in the travel survey, representing a cross section of the region’s demographics and income levels.

Data about moving and displacement was gathered from survey participants who said they had moved in the last five years.

View the 2019 survey data at