In Bellingham’s York Neighborhood, homes have gotten more expensive than almost anyone could have predicted five years ago.
And for many of the people who work nearby, the prices have climbed far out of reach because real estate prices in Whatcom County have been escalating twice as fast as wages for over 20 years.
Myles Kroll outmaneuvered those trends and others to become the 21st homebuyer to use Kulshan Community Land Trust’s help to buy a home in Whatcom County.
And as he will be proud to tell you, he is “the happiest disabled homeowner ever!” According to his sister, Jean, “Myles challenges people’s assumptions about what a disabled person is capable of.” Jean has watched and helped as her brother has become more self-reliant than anyone expected.
Myles works three jobs, has great credit, and Washington Mutual considers him a good customer for their special programs that help first-time homebuyers. But even with three jobs, Myles’s income will not give him a large enough mortgage to buy a simple, small home in Bellingham.
That’s where Kulshan CLT’s help factors in, because when you add Kulshan CLT’s downpayment gap assistance to Myles’s mortgage plus his downpayment, the total is enough to make homeownership possible. Since July, 2002 Kulshan CLT has used this same approach twenty-one times in Whatcom County and aims to do twenty or more homes in 2004.
For Myles, Kulshan CLT lined up:
- a below market-rate mortgage from the WA State Housing Finance Commission
- a $12,500 Home Choice downpayment from WSHFC for families with a disabled member
- downpayment help from HOME federal funds that the City of Bellingham receives for housing
- an additional $7,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle
All of these community investments will stay with the property and Myles, like all CLT homebuyers, agrees to keep the home affordable for all future buyers and, at the same time, Myles earns a reasonable rate of return on his investment in the property.
Paul Schissler, executive director at Kulshan CLT, likes to point out that Myles and all of Kulshan CLT’s homeowners are partnering with the community. “The community makes the home affordable and the homeowners will keep the home affordable. ” As Schissler holds up as a goal, “We need a mix of housing sizes, types and prices in every neighborhood, affordable at the wages of the jobs nearby.” Myles is helping the community reach that goal.
Kulshan CLT is a nonprofit membership organization, working for permanently affordable access to land and housing in Whatcom County.