Bellingham's Consolidated Plan

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Consultation has concluded

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

What is a Consolidated Plan?

Homelessness. Affordable housing. Rising food costs. 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

There is a separate page that dives into each one of the following topics below. These are all subjects that are explored in the Consolidated Plan.

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. Rising food costs. 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

There is a separate page that dives into each one of the following topics below. These are all subjects that are explored in the Consolidated Plan.

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)

Consultation has concluded

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.

  • Share "Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. 24 CFR 91.210 (a)(2)" I didn't see any information or text cover the rehabilitation suitability of the count of buildings that could be brought into the rental market. What steps are you planning on taking to bring existing homes into the rental market supply? on Facebook Share "Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. 24 CFR 91.210 (a)(2)" I didn't see any information or text cover the rehabilitation suitability of the count of buildings that could be brought into the rental market. What steps are you planning on taking to bring existing homes into the rental market supply? on Twitter Share "Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. 24 CFR 91.210 (a)(2)" I didn't see any information or text cover the rehabilitation suitability of the count of buildings that could be brought into the rental market. What steps are you planning on taking to bring existing homes into the rental market supply? on Linkedin Email "Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. 24 CFR 91.210 (a)(2)" I didn't see any information or text cover the rehabilitation suitability of the count of buildings that could be brought into the rental market. What steps are you planning on taking to bring existing homes into the rental market supply? link

    "Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. 24 CFR 91.210 (a)(2)" I didn't see any information or text cover the rehabilitation suitability of the count of buildings that could be brought into the rental market. What steps are you planning on taking to bring existing homes into the rental market supply?

    Mark Ambler asked about 1 year ago

    Thanks for this question. Based on our research of the available data, Bellingham does not have a significant number of units that are in need of rehabilitation. We did review Whatcom County Assessor data of homes in the city and found that of the 19,347 current single-family units as of Feb 2023, only 40 units have a “Low” or “Poor” quality condition rating (2021 assessor evaluation). Most of the approximately 2,000 vacant units in the city are unoccupied because they are second homes, in the process of being sold or remodeled, etc., not because they are in poor condition or abandoned. Here is a break down:

    Vacant, for rent = 774 (3.5% of all rental units)

    Vacant, rented = 200

    Vacant, for sale = 144

    Vacant, sold = 15

    Vacant, seasonally occupied = 446

    Vacant, other = 498

    Total Vacant = 2,077 (4.9% of all units)

    There is not a good source of information to determine which units are suitable for rehabilitation, as most housing unit are privately owned. The city does not have any existing programs to bring existing single-family homes into the rental market. However, we do have programs that help preserve existing affordable housing units through our Home Rehab Program and through grants for preservation of affordable non-profit rental housing. You can visit Housing & Human Services (arcgis.com) to learn more about these programs. 

  • Share In the "Draft Consolidated Plan for Public Comment", there is a table on Page 66 titled "Households vs. Housing Units Affordable by Income Range". Is it correct to assume that if the "number of housing units" exceeds "number of households", the data suggests that category of income has sufficient inventory? on Facebook Share In the "Draft Consolidated Plan for Public Comment", there is a table on Page 66 titled "Households vs. Housing Units Affordable by Income Range". Is it correct to assume that if the "number of housing units" exceeds "number of households", the data suggests that category of income has sufficient inventory? on Twitter Share In the "Draft Consolidated Plan for Public Comment", there is a table on Page 66 titled "Households vs. Housing Units Affordable by Income Range". Is it correct to assume that if the "number of housing units" exceeds "number of households", the data suggests that category of income has sufficient inventory? on Linkedin Email In the "Draft Consolidated Plan for Public Comment", there is a table on Page 66 titled "Households vs. Housing Units Affordable by Income Range". Is it correct to assume that if the "number of housing units" exceeds "number of households", the data suggests that category of income has sufficient inventory? link

    In the "Draft Consolidated Plan for Public Comment", there is a table on Page 66 titled "Households vs. Housing Units Affordable by Income Range". Is it correct to assume that if the "number of housing units" exceeds "number of households", the data suggests that category of income has sufficient inventory?

    Mark Ambler asked about 1 year ago

    Excellent question, Mark! Actually, this chart complements the other data shared in the Consolidated Plan related to cost burden. For example, in the 50%-80% AMI affordability range, we see a lot more units than we have households, while in the 0%-50% AMI affordability range, we see a lot more households than units. What this shows us is that a lot of people who cannot find anything affordable to their incomes are actually living in units that are beyond their means. Units affordable to households earning less than 50% of the area median are in short supply. This explains why cost burden is so high in our community. Thanks for taking the time to reach out - I pasted the chart below for others' benefit. 


  • Share Can you please define “equitable housing “ and what this means? on Facebook Share Can you please define “equitable housing “ and what this means? on Twitter Share Can you please define “equitable housing “ and what this means? on Linkedin Email Can you please define “equitable housing “ and what this means? link

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

    Irishgirl67 asked almost 2 years 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

  • Share 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? on Facebook Share 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? on Twitter Share 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? on Linkedin Email 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? link

    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 almost 2 years 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. 

  • Share 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. on Facebook Share 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. on Twitter Share 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. on Linkedin Email 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. link

    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 almost 2 years 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.

  • Share 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. on Facebook Share 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. on Twitter Share 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. on Linkedin Email 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. link

    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 about 2 years 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 

  • Share 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. on Facebook Share 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. on Twitter Share 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. on Linkedin Email 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. link

    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 about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comment. 

  • Share 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! ! ! on Facebook Share 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! ! ! on Twitter Share 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! ! ! on Linkedin Email 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! ! ! link

    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 about 2 years ago

    Thank you for your comment. 

  • Share 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? on Facebook Share 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? on Twitter Share 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? on Linkedin Email 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? link

    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 about 2 years 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. 

  • Share Didn’t 22 State Street and Francis Place turn out to be a disaster? on Facebook Share Didn’t 22 State Street and Francis Place turn out to be a disaster? on Twitter Share Didn’t 22 State Street and Francis Place turn out to be a disaster? on Linkedin Email Didn’t 22 State Street and Francis Place turn out to be a disaster? link

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

    Leslie Curlow asked about 2 years 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.