Land trust gets into the home building business in Whatcom County

Kari Shaw, The Bellingham Herald

Whatcom County, WA - The Washington State Housing Finance Commission has awarded a Proud Partner Award to Kulshan Community Land Trust for its plans to build affordable housing in Happy Valley.

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Commission spokesman Bill Wortley said the award recognizes clients and partners with the state who go above and beyond to help first time homebuyers into houses.

The commission is a quasi-public agency created by the state devoted to increasing housing access and affordability. Its revenue-backed mortgage bonds make possible programs like Kulshan's below-market rate partnership with local banks.

Commission officials surprised the Kulshan staff with a bronze plaque and news of the award on March 17.

"They are the biggest funder of affordable housing in the state," said Kulshan Executive Director Paul Schissler. "So the award means a lot to us and for Whatcom County."

The commission has awarded the honor to three other Bellingham organizations: the city of Bellingham, Bellingham/Whatcom Housing Authority and Wells Fargo Bank.

Kulshan, a Bellingham nonprofit, normally matches potential homebuyers who make less than 80 percent of the median income with down payment assistance and low-interest rate programs.

Kulshan Community Land Trust has helped 22 families buy homes since 2002.

It bought the half-acre property to build upon last year in what will be the first time it builds homes.

Kulshan is still in the planning stages for the houses, which number at least five.



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