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Ferndale City Hall (2019). File photo - My Ferndale News

Work begins to put Ferndale Affordable Housing Levy on the November ballot

FERNDALE, Wash. — Considered a significant recommendation from the North Whatcom Poverty Task Force, a proposed Ferndale Affordable Housing Levy was hoped to be on the 2020 November ballot but the myriad challenges 2020 will forever be known for got in the way.

The Planning and Land Use Council Committee is scheduled to discuss a proposal to put the levy on the 2021 General Election ballot during their Wednesday, February 10th, meeting at 10am.

1 of many recommendations from the temporary advisory committee, the 10-year levy is being proposed at $0.35 per $1,000 of appraised property value (mil rate). This is expected to generate, based on City staff’s estimate, approximately $712,000 per year. The State law that enables the City to impose a property tax for this purpose, allows for up to a $0.50 mil rate.

Annual revenue generated by the levy would be collected and allocated by the City of Ferndale as follows.

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DescriptionAmount (approx.)Percent
Build affordable housing (4 units per year)$448,56063%
Given to the Kulshan Land Trust to assist low-income families afford a first home$121,04017%
Pay for a case worker at the Opportunity Council to do eviction prevention and housing case management$71,20010%
Administrative costs to manage the revenue$71,20010%

According to the staff report regarding this committee meeting agenda item, “the median [assessed] home price in Ferndale is $363,000, so this would mean an average increase of $127 per year.” They added, “Unfortunately, this is not a problem that the private sector can address, and the impacts of these market influences can be brutal to a community– a point brought out vividly with the scene that played out in front of Bellingham’s City Hall in the last couple of weeks.”

According to City staff, the Ferndale levy is based on success seen with the Bellingham Home Fund, approved by voters in 2012. It is being credited with helping create 376 rental and transitional housing units, securing homeownership for 128 low-income households and providing funding for other housing assistance measures.

If the Ferndale City Council succeeds in placing the levy on the ballot, it will require a simple majority (more than 50%) for it to be approved.

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