Submitted by Kulshan Community Land Trust

Kulshan Community Land Trust (KulshanCLT) is pleased to announce that the Bellingham City Council has approved the transfer of a surplus residential parcel (611 Texas Street, Bellingham, WA) to KulshanCLT to be managed for affordable housing. KulshanCLT will build an ADA-accessible, permanently-affordable single-family residence on the lot, intended for a Bellingham family with a disabled child.

In October 2018, the Bellingham City Council declared four single-family residential parcels as surplus to the City. The initial recommendation was to sell the parcels on the private market and put funds back into the General Fund. One was sold to an adjacent property owner. In January 2019 the City Public Works & Natural Resources Committee recommended that the remaining three parcels be sold and resulting funds used for the development of permanently affordable housing. 

The City circulated a request for Letters of Interest and received responses from Habitat for Humanity, Foundation for the Challenged and KulshanCLT. In May 2019, the City Planning and Community Development Committee recommended that rather than being sold, the parcels should be developed for affordable housing by local interested nonprofits since they were already located in neighborhoods in need.

On January 27, 2020, KulshanCLT was approved by the City Council to develop the parcel at 611 Texas Street as an infill project by special disposition under a required “restrictive covenant to ensure the long-term benefit to low-income households.” The lot is currently a vacant lot in the Sunnyland Neighborhood near Sunnyland Park.

KulshanCLT has committed to develop the lot into a permanently-affordable, ADA-accessible single-family residence. They have identified a Bellingham family with a disabled child in need who will occupy the home if they are still eligible when construction is complete.

“It is difficult to find affordable homes that meet the needs of families with disabled children,” explains KulshanCLT Homeownership Program Director Nikki Quinn. The needs of children with progressive disabilities change as they grow and as their disability changes. “Their needs are very specific as far as wheelchair accessibility. We have identified a family in need but have been struggling to find an affordable home that will meet their needs that include an ADA-accessible home with an accessible bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, in town and near resources,” adds Quinn. “Right now they are living in a second story apartment, carrying their child up and down the stairs. The child is getting almost too big to do that safely for the parents. They have got to make a change.” 

KulshanCLT is grateful for the ongoing support of the City, their staff and the City Coucilmembers that approved this transfer. “The City has gone above and beyond to make the lot usable including adjustments of the neighbor’s sewer line, rezoning from government to residential and straightening the lot line,” remembers Quinn. “We could not have afforded to build the home if it weren’t for the City transfer because lots in that area are selling on the open market in excess of $160,000. The City opted to gift it to us because we’re creating a permanently affordable home for a disabled family.” 

“We’re delighted to work again with world–renowned, Bellingham-based architect Greg Robinson who has developed a beautiful cottage design for the home,” notes KulshanCLT Executive Director Dean Fearing. “Cascade Joinery, whom we’ve worked with twice before, are very excited to give back to the community to build the house for us.” Construction is scheduled to begin in Fall 2020.

“These houses they build are always above and beyond what we have the budget for but they don’t care who they are building for, they want to be proud of their work. It’s just what they do,” adds Quinn. “We’re completely confident that even with the very limited budget the family can afford, Cascade Joinery is going to build us a beautiful, custom product that you would never know was a low-income home.”

More About Kulshan CLT

KulshanCLT strengthens community by holding land in trust for permanently affordable homeownership and other community needs, and by offering financial and educational services to people of limited means.

Since the trust began in 1999, it has assisted more than 190 moderate-income households (80% of the AMI and below) purchase affordable homes in Whatcom County. KulshanCLT ensures that these homes will remain affordable for future buyers as well.

KulshanCLT works to foster a healthy mix of housing types, sizes and prices, affordable at the wages of the jobs nearby. KulshanCLT creates housing for our economically diverse population by applying the community land trust strategy and working within the prevailing economic and governing systems, using assets and insights from all sectors, to better the common good in this community. Through this model, every hour and dollar spent on a KulshanCLT home is a lifetime investment in sustainable homeownership and community stability.

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