Safe, Healthy & Affordable Homes For All

Bellingham does not have enough affordable homes. Our housing shortage is leading to skyrocketing rents and home prices, pricing many of us out of town or onto the streets. The city needs to launch a residential construction campaign. We need more living spaces—living spaces that Bellingham residents can afford.

The Bellingham Tenants Union believes we must:

  • 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 targeted rent control/stabilization laws to prevent rent spikes, preserve affordable homes, and reduce displacement.
  • Create 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.
  • Ensure good access to green spaces and a healthy environment for all residents.

Protect & Expand Tenant Rights

Tenants are being exploited by predatory rental companies and a failed housing system in which they have too little power to advocate for their rights. We need to construct and enact a Tenants’ Bill of Rights to empower renters with stability and dignity in their homes.

The Bellingham Tenants Union believes we must:

  • Crack down on slumlords. In the Rental Registration and Safety program, fix the private inspector loophole with rigorous audits and public disclosure of all inspections. Allow tenants to request inspections 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 are put up for sale at a fair price.
  • End the outdated ‘rule of three’ that prohibits more than 3 unrelated people from living together in single-family residential zoning.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, incarceration history, LGBTQ identity, HIV status, age, disability or other identifying characteristics.
  • Offer a universal right to counsel to tenants faced with eviction and/or serious tenant rights violations.

Support & Defend Victims of the Housing Crisis

Many of our neighbors have been priced out of their homes and are now experiencing homelessness. The fight to end homelessness is intertwined with the fight for affordable homes. We support the demands of local fair housing organizations focused on homelessness.

The Bellingham Tenants Union believes we must:

  • Provide safe places for people to sleep outside without risk of being removed. Provide safe places for those living in vehicles to park overnight.
  • Support tiny house villages and a diverse array of shelter options, including the necessary funding for their 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.


Want to see these solutions put into action? Join us.

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. We just need the political will to implement them. 

We must organize our communities, testify at City Council, make our case to the public and media, elect housing champions, facilitate community owned and developed housing, and run ballot initiatives.