Bellingham's Consolidated Plan

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Artist Rendering of Samish Commons project in the Samish Way Urban Village.

What is a Consolidated Plan?

Homelessness. Affordable housing. Lack of childcare. These topics are on the minds of many people right now, both in our community and throughout the country. Our Consolidated Plan will influence how the City responds to these complex issues over the next 5 years.

The City of Bellingham has approximately $9 million each year to spend to address problems like these. However, these funds are restricted – they can only be spent on services and housing projects for our lowest income residents, and those with special needs (such as elderly or disabled persons).

Every 5 years we must create a plan to prioritize how we’ll spend this funding to best address these issues. Before making this plan, the City would like to hear from our community.


Consolidated Plan Topics

Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing a series of pages which will each focus on one of the following topics. We’ll be providing some basic information and offering ways that the community can make suggestions or give feedback.

Click on the colored boxes to learn about the topic and share your feedback.

Equitable Access to Housing


We'd like to hear from you!

Community participation is an important part of the 2023-2027 Consolidated Plan process. Please browse the topics above to share your ideas.

(Banner photo at top of page by Lauren McClanahan)

What is a Consolidated Plan?

Homelessness. Affordable housing. Lack of childcare. These topics are on the minds of many people right now, both in our community and throughout the country. Our Consolidated Plan will influence how the City responds to these complex issues over the next 5 years.

The City of Bellingham has approximately $9 million each year to spend to address problems like these. However, these funds are restricted – they can only be spent on services and housing projects for our lowest income residents, and those with special needs (such as elderly or disabled persons).

Every 5 years we must create a plan to prioritize how we’ll spend this funding to best address these issues. Before making this plan, the City would like to hear from our community.


Consolidated Plan Topics

Over the next few months, we’ll be introducing a series of pages which will each focus on one of the following topics. We’ll be providing some basic information and offering ways that the community can make suggestions or give feedback.

Click on the colored boxes to learn about the topic and share your feedback.

Equitable Access to Housing


We'd like to hear from you!

Community participation is an important part of the 2023-2027 Consolidated Plan process. Please browse the topics above to share your ideas.

(Banner photo at top of page by Lauren McClanahan)

Ask a question

Do you have a question about the Consolidated Plan? Ask it here! If you have questions about one of the topics above, we encourage you to visit that page to learn more and ask your question there.

You need to be signed in to add your question.

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    Can you please define “equitable housing “ and what this means?

    Irishgirl67 asked 3 months ago

    Certainly! Equitable housing is a general concept, which might be defined many different ways. For the purposes of this project, we're defining housing equity as the goal that everyone should be able to secure decent housing, obtain educational and economic opportunities, and benefit from public services regardless of their personal characteristics (such as race, ethnicity, gender, and age) or where they live in Bellingham. To learn more about housing equity, please visit this page: Equitable Access to Housing | Engage Bellingham

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    What is the city already doing, and what more could be done to help people looking for work, especially people of color, so that they can afford housing in this town?

    V Herrick asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question. There are several organizations that provide free job-training and literacy skills for people who are low income or looking for work, such as the Goodwill Job Training Center and Whatcom Literacy Council. Not many of these programs are currently receiving City funds, but this certainly could be a suggestion for funding in the future. However, it is important to note that most of our low-income residents are employed, and many jobs in Bellingham do not pay enough to afford the market rents here, let alone home ownership. 

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    Citizen asked: "Why not tax landlords?" City response: "This seems like more of an suggestion than a question." "Why not tax landlords?" Is a question. Please supply an answer to the legitimate question. Thank you.

    John Seagull asked 4 months ago

    Thanks for your follow-up question. The most direct answer to "why not tax landlords" is that all real estate transactions, including rental of real estate, are exempt from B&O tax per BMC 6.04.090. This exemption has been in place since the 1950's, long before most of us were employment-age, so it is hard to say why it was originally included. (One could speculate it was thought that an additional tax on landlords would further drive up rents, perhaps?) We can say that this language mimics the state’s B&O tax provision, and that of other municipalities. 

    Income from property management fees are subject to B&O tax.

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    Why not tax landlords? Not the mom and pop kind but companies or individuals with more than X number of dwelling units. All other businesses in Bellingham pay a B&O tax. Why are landlords exempt? Perhaps me some sort of B&O tax rebate/credit/deduction for keep rents below a certain level.

    Dick C asked 5 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your idea! This seems like more of an suggestion than a question. Would you mind submitting it here? Share your ideas for how to improve housing equity and access in Bellingham. | Equitable Access to Housing | Engage Bellingham 

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    Why do so many of Bellingham’s residents actions enable homelessness instead of requiring personal accountability from adults? Adults should rise to the level of expectations not be promoted to be content with none.

    Leslie Curlow asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comment. 

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    Everyone knows giving the homeless houses doesn't work, just look at los Angeles and san Francisco! You can't keep taxing residents of Bellingham and spending ten's of thousands on a fraction of 1% of the population. My house is up for sale and as soon as it sells I am out of washington! my kids have all ready moved! and I am born and raised here with relatives buried here and I can't wait to get out of here! ! !

    southsidetaxpayer asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comment. 

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    I'd love to see the city invest directly in housing that can be owned by our community and rented without a profit motive, to provide more affordable housing options in our town. Are there any plans to do this?

    ez asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Yes, the City already partners with several non-profit housing developers who offer permanently affordable rentals to low-income residents in Bellingham, and there are plans to continue to build more! Please take a look at our Housing & Human Services page, and scroll down to Housing Projects to see a map of the current and upcoming projects in the City. 

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    Didn’t 22 State Street and Francis Place turn out to be a disaster?

    Leslie Curlow asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comment. Perhaps you are thinking about the frequency of 911 calls or other problematic behaviors? After Francis Place was opened, the Bellingham Police Department tracked 911 calls related to eight individuals who were frequent users of 911 services, and who were later housed at Francis Place. Calls were tracked for up to 18 months prior to and after moving into permanent, supportive housing. There were 329 calls from this group in the period before, and 67 total calls in the period after moving into Francis Place (close to an 80% reduction). We don't have a similar data set for 22 North, but in general, we see that housing and supportive services decreases problem behaviors such as camping and loitering, helps people with mental illness to stabilize, and decreases calls to overstretched emergency services.

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    Why don’t we prioritize funding a residential facility for the mentally ill?

    Leslie Curlow asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your question. People with disabilities, including mental illness, are a priority group in the current Consolidated Plan. The City funds several non-profit partners that provide housing for people who have a mental illness. However, the need still exceeds the resources for permanent supportive housing in our community. Making this a priority for our next Consolidated Plan is certainly an option!

Page last updated: 21 Sep 2022, 04:18 PM