My husband and I had always dreamed (and assumed) we would one day own a home. It would provide stability, it was an investment, and everyone was doing it. But as the years went on and we dealt with the births of our two children, three layoffs in as many years, and several moves, we began to convince ourselves that maybe renting wasn’t really so bad.
Then we discovered Kulshan Community Land Trust. As a family of limited means, we qualified for downpayment help through Kulshan CLT’s HomeBuyer Driven Program.
We signed up for their HomeBuyer Education Workshop and began the process of securing a mortgage and then a house. Within four whirlwind months we were living in our very own (and very beautiful) home.
Having lived all of my adult life as a renter, it was a bit of a shock at first that homeownership meant so many things to thing about, repair, replace, purchase, paint… But what had not occurred to me before we bought our house was the joy of involving myself in even the most menial home improvement projects because, for the first time, it really matters.
Our bright house is a joy to come home to. Our vegetable and herb gardens are delights to nourish ourselves from; and our wide open backyard is fun to play in. Replacing our water heater with an on-demand model meant a month of research.
Deciding what can and will be planted has entailed a year’s observation while we studied many Pacific Northwest plants books. Picking the interior’s colors has meant feeling our use of space, the breezes, and the light.
We’ve connected with many other Bellinghamsters in efforts to barter time and especially materials to make our spaces more affordable and sustainable. We shop RE Store and we’re more committed than ever to spending our money at local businesses which, in turn, support Bellingham.
My family has lived through every season now in our new house. We’ve seen the sun rise from behind the neighbor’s chestnut tree in June and from behind our maple in December. The back yard has been a dry plain to play kickball, and it’s been a swampy field for the kids to muck around in.
The western windows need summer shade while the north ones need insulation. We’ve walked our neighborhood in all directions and weather and we see how we are just one part of Sunnyland and Bellingham. We know many of our neighbors for two blocks around.
While we strive to make our house the best one (for us), we also see how so many of our neighbors also strive to make their houses the best ones (for them).
It’s been very inspiring to pay attention to the different ways people have made their houses become their homes. In fact, it’s felt so good to be a stable part of our neighborhood that my husband and I have both become active members of our Neighborhood Association.
All of this matters as homeowners, and it’s so satisfying that everything we do in our new space is for us and our future.
It has been such a transformative and positive experience that I joined the Board of Trustees of Kulshan CLT in order to help many more of my companions-in-income-level experience their own homeownership.
Although I understand that rental houses are necessary for many people, it saddens me that the percentage of non-student rentals in Bellingham is so high and getting higher, with most renters no longer able to even dream of buying a house.
As I watch “For Sale” signs replaced within weeks with “For Rent” signs all over the city, I feel frustrated by the instability of Bellingham’s housing. But with Kulshan CLT’s realistic, fantastic scattered-site housing program, I’m very hopeful that things are getting better, faster, for many of us proud resident homeowners. Don’t lose the dream of owning a home in your own city – call Kulshan CLT!