Sign Our Open Letter to City Council and Mayor Linville
Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, and affordable home. That is far from a reality today. Landlords fight tenant protections and try to maximize their profits. Anti-housing activists try to keep housing that is more affordable to low- and moderate-income people out of their neighborhoods. We can do better.
The Bellingham City Council and Mayor Linville need to take bold action to protect tenants and increase the availability of affordable housing.
Add your name to our open letter and join the fight for tenant protections and affordable housing:
Dear Bellingham City Council and Mayor Linville,
We, the undersigned, express our commitment to ensuring everyone in our community has a safe, healthy, and affordable home.
Today, Bellingham does not have enough affordable homes. The current housing shortage has led to skyrocketing rents and home prices, pricing many of us out of town or onto the streets. We want to continue to be a part of this community and see it thrive. Laws need to be changed to protect tenants and increase the availability of homes people can afford. We strongly urge you to:
- Build community-owned, non-profit, affordable housing funded partially by progressive revenue, such as fees on vacant buildings/land, mansions, the wealthy, and large corporations. Build these homes on surplus city property, prioritizing and supporting ownership by community land trusts.
- Pass a resolution urging Olympia to overturn the ban on rent regulation. When the ban is overturned, pass targeted rent control/stabilization laws to prevent rent spikes, preserve affordable homes, and reduce displacement.
- Allow housing that is more affordable to low- and moderate-income people in every neighborhood, including duplexes, sixplexes, and apartment houses. These types of homes are currently illegal in 70 percent of Bellingham’s residential land due to zoning.
- Prioritize homes for people over homes for cars: End requirements for mandatory parking spots in areas served by transit to reduce the cost of homebuilding and promote walkable and livable communities.
- Pass an inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires there to be homes affordable to low- and moderate-income people in every new housing development.
- Crack down on slumlords. Fix the private inspector loophole and allow tenants to request inspections in the Rental Registration and Safety Inspection program to ensure access to safe, healthy housing.
- Cap move-in fees and rental application costs. Give renters the right to pay their move-in costs in installments with no interest.
- Offer tenants first right of refusal to purchase their buildings if they go up for sale at a fair price.
- End the outdated ‘rule of three’ that prohibits more than 3 unrelated people to live together in single-family residential zoning. Update the definition of family to include families of adults, friends, elderly and young people, couples, and other non-traditional families.
- Enforce and expand anti-discrimination laws. Affirmatively further fair housing, and ensure that landlords cannot discriminate against any tenant or prospective tenant based on immigration status, race, past incarceration, LGBTQ identity, HIV status, age or disability.
- Provide safe places for people to sleep outside without risk of being removed. Provide safe places for cars/RVs to park for those living in vehicles.
- Support tiny house villages and a diverse array of shelter options, including the necessary funding for success. Provide access to bathrooms, clean water, and dumpsters for those without homes.
- End the criminalization of homelessness. Repeal the sit-in-line ordinance that criminalizes people who sit or rest on public sidewalks downtown. Invest in safe rest areas for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
The current broken housing system prioritizes profit over the well-being of communities. It serves mostly wealthy white people at the expense of everyone else.
We have solutions to the housing crisis. There has been a lack of political will to implement them.
Now is the time for bold leadership on the housing crisis to protect Bellingham and the people who live and work here.