Report cites number of ‘cost-burdened’ renters in Bellingham, some severely

Welcome to Bellingham sign on Boulevard Street.
Welcome to Bellingham sign on Boulevard Street. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

More than half of Bellingham renters were “cost-burdened” in 2016, spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent, according to figures released this week by the internet company ApartmentList.

Some 54 percent of Bellingham renters spend more than one-third of their income for housing, the report said, using census data from 2016.

The report also indicated that 30 percent of Bellingham renters were “severely cost-burdened” in 2016, spending 50 percent or more of their income on rent.

ApartmentList, a website that aggregates listings from web sources into a map-based interface, regularly publishes renter-related statistics.

“Affordability is driven by both rent and income,” the report said, noting that rents in Bellingham increased by 8.7 percent from 2005-2016, while renter incomes increased by 22.1 percent.

“As the U.S. renter population nears 44 million households – or 37 percent of U.S. households – and rents increase nationwide, rental affordability remains an important concern,” the report said.


Nearly half of U.S. renters are cost-burdened and one-quarter of U.S. renters are severely cost-burdened, according to the report. The share of cost-burdened renters has doubled since 1960 – when 24 percent of renters were cost-burdened.

Average rent varies by source and method of measuring, but rents in general have been rising steeply in Bellingham over the past five years.

According to Rent Jungle, average rent for an apartment in Bellingham was $1,492 in October 2017, a 9.1 percent decrease from October 2016 when the average rent was $1,628, and an 8.04 percent decrease from September 2017, when the average rent was $1,612.

Zillow Market Research figures for September – the most recent available – show the median Bellingham rent was $1,651, a monthly rise of 1 percent and an annual increase of 13.5 percent.

Sperling’s Best Places says renters make up 51 percent of the Bellingham population, but local Bellingham observers put that figure closer to 55 percent.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty