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Here's why Bellingham voters are being asked to extend the housing tax

The 80-unit Eleanor Apartments at 1510 North Forest St. is for low-income seniors and was built with housing levy funds.
The 80-unit Eleanor Apartments at 1510 North Forest St. is for low-income seniors and was built with housing levy funds. The Bellingham Herald file

Bellingham City Council members unanimously agreed Monday to ask voters to extend a property tax that funds housing programs citywide.

In addition, the city is seeking volunteers for committees to write ballot statements both for and against the measure.

If approved in the November 8 election, the Bellingham Home Fund levy would cost homeowners 36 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value on their home.

It would cost $108 annually for someone who owns a $300,000 house and would last for 10 years.

In a 2017 citywide survey, Bellingham residents cited homelessness and a lack of affordable housing among their top concerns.

Money collected from the tax would help with down payments for home buyers, provide rental assistance and build housing aimed at low-income residents, among other benefits.

It's an extension of a levy that Bellingham voters approved in 2012 and was set to expire at the end of 2019. Among the projects funded by the current levy are the Eleanor Apartments, an 80-unit complex for low-income seniors that opened in September 2017.

Bellingham officials sought to renew and replace the existing levy before it ended.

City officials said the new levy would replace the final year of the old levy, and residents would not be double-taxed in 2019.

Residents who are interested in volunteering on the ballot committees should contact the Mayor's Office at 360-778-8100 or mayorsoffice@cob.org.

An application is online and is due by 4:30 p.m. June 15.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty
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