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Meeting Dec. 2 on proposed 50-unit farmworker housing in Bellingham

Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington plans to build housing for farmworkers and their families on West Bakerview Road.

People can learn about the project during a public meeting that will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2. It will be in room 108 of the Syre Student Center at Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Road in Bellingham.

The city of Bellingham requires such meetings before a project developer applies for land-use permits.

Catholic Housing Services plans to build 50 residential units — each two- or three-bedrooms — in three buildings at 760 and 824 W. Bakerview Road.

Each building would be four stories.

The project, called Bakerview Family Housing, would include a playground, community area, commercial space and parking for farmworker families living in Whatcom County.

Catholic Housing Services couldn’t be reached for comment.

The project was among the first to receive funding from a new low-income housing levy made possible by Bellingham voters, who approved a property tax increase in November 2012 to help the needy and the homeless get into affordable housing.

The levy is expected to raise about $3 million a year for seven years for such efforts.

The Bakerview Family Housing project received $1.5 million in levy funding in 2013. At that time, the total price tag was projected to be $9.9 million.

Catholic Housing Services has developed a number of housing projects for farmworkers and their families in Mount Vernon, Sedro-Woolley, Centralia, Woodland and Kelso. They said affordable rental housing is needed given that average annual income for a farmworker family of four is $17,600.

In Western Washington, 7,000 new units of permanent housing, like Bakerview Family Housing, and 12,000 units of seasonal housing are needed, the organization said on its website.

Catholic Housing Services said it’s developing 25 to 74 units a year.

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