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League Takes on Housing Crisis

Robin Barker | Published on 9/8/2022
The Board of LWVBWC has selected the housing crisis as its major focus area for the upcoming year.  The League has many ways of promoting democratic action, like voting or advocating for public policy.  The Board is convening a group to learn what is being done locally to make housing more available and more affordable and determine how best to help in that effort.

At our kick-off meeting we invited Rose Lathrop of Sustainable Connections to speak about the Whatcom Housing Alliance and the annual Housing Week, and Kate Bartholomew from the City of Bellingham, who showed us how to access some very informative interactive pages.  You can watch the recording here.

For details about the exciting and informative  Housing Week activities October 17-21, check out the Whatcom Housing Alliance website.

You can see all housing units by type in the city on the Bellingham's Housing Statistics Story Map. This includes new residential units permitted by year since 2000. (Scroll down in the Housing Types section until you hit the orange and yellow bar chart). If you click on Infill Housing at the top, and scroll down a little, you can also see a list of infill housing types completed, approved, and in the application process as of June 2022.

For more context on affordable housing, take a look at Housing & Human Services (  If you click on Housing Projects at the top grey bar, this shows all new affordable housing projects specifically, including permanent supportive housing,  You can then click on individual dots to learn more about each project (who it serves, how big, where funding comes from, etc.)

Another helpful resource is this FAQ on the City's website:

The City of Bellingham is in the process of updating its Consolidated Plan, which determines how funding will be spent on services and housing for the community's lowest income residents and those with special needs.  Your participation is welcome.

 And here is an excellent 30 minute interview summarizing  how we got in this challenging situation nation wide.  

We are asking for volunteers interested in joining the housing team.  The first step:  find a speaker or panel to speak at the fall member meeting, scheduled for November 12.  Contact if you’d like to help.

As research continues, the team may recommend collaborating with other organizations, observe public meetings where housing is discussed, develop advocacy positions, and schedule public education events with the goal of encouraging the use of the democratic process to make policy changes.   Please join the effort contributing as little as an hour a month or more of your time. We’ll have projects for everyone.

The Samish Commons project was designed by RMC Architects, working with the Bellingham Housing Authority.