Innovative Housing Directory

A virtual tour of Whatcom County’s most innovative housing developments.

Take a (virtual) stroll with the Whatcom Housing Alliance as we explore a few of the most innovative and sustainable housing projects in Whatcom County. Almost all the projects in the directory were created by WHA member organizations, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase their good work. These projects exemplify the innovative housing solutions that we, as an Alliance, are committed to championing in our community which includes infill development, middle housing forms, permanently affordable homes, cohousing communities, and more. Diverse projects, such as these, help contribute toward equitable, prosperous, healthy, and vibrant communities for everyone.

Aurora Court

Aurora Court | Mahogany Ave, Bellingham
The RJ Group

Aurora Court was built in five separate phases using Bellingham’s Infill Toolkit with strong support for open space and walkability. This development provides 330 residences with a range in square footage to accommodate diverse living situations.

  • The 30-acre development includes pocket parks, rain gardens, and walking trails
  • All units are alley-loading to allow a clear, pedestrian-friendly streetscape
  • A main courtyard is established as a neighborhood gathering space

The RJ Group Projects
About Rain Gardens
2-Bedroom Floorplan

Bellingham Co-Housing

Bellingham Cohousing | Donovan, Bellingham
Bellingham Cohousing

Bellingham Cohousing is a true community with 33 homes and shared spaces that allow for social interaction amongst all residents. Everyone shares a principle of participation “which acts as a kind of glue that strengthens relationships.” (from Bellingham Cohousing)

  • Shared resources include: common house, workshop, play area, gardens, and workshop
  • Housing units are clustered and developed on half of the property to preserve wetlands
  • Green building implemented with energy-efficient lighting and insulation

Bellingham Cohousing Website

Benefits of Cohousing

Eleanor Apartments

Eleanor Apartments | North Forest St, Bellingham
Mercy Housing

Eleanor Apartments is a four-story complex developed by Mercy Housing as an affordable housing option for low-income seniors in the downtown Bellingham area. This structure hosts eighty apartments, a community space for resident services, a laundry facility and seating areas.

  • Serves seniors earning 30-50% area median income
  • Meets Universal Design Standards so that all areas are accessible by residents
  • Meets Evergreen Sustainability standards with a rain garden, solar panels, and enhanced insulation

Mercy Housing – Eleanor Apartments
Area Median Income Explained
About Universal Design

Matthei Place

Matthei Place | Harris Ave, Bellingham

Matthei Place is a development containing 14 single-family homes and is an example of a development that is both sustainably green as well as affordable for low to moderate-income housing. These homes satisfy the need for green-built and energy-efficient homes that are affordable for families in the Bellingham area.

  • All 14 homes are located on less than an acre of land
  • Successful pilot project for the LEED Home rating system
  • KulshanCLT uses a shared equity strategy to ensure that the homes retain affordability over time

Matthei Place on KulshanCLT
LEED H Rating System

Millworks Cohousing

Millworks Cohousing | Mill Ave, Bellingham
Aiki Ho

Millworks Cohousing is the product of collaboration and hard work, resulting in an 8-home co-housing community. This community utilizes shared amenities to allow for smaller, smarter-built private homes that are certified Built Green and ENERGY STAR.

  • This development is located close to schools, markets, and bus lines, ideal for low-impact development
  • These homes focus on sustainability with high energy efficiency, optimization of solar gain, and low environmental impacts
  • Shared use of a common house includes a kitchen, library, study room, guest quarters, and a meeting space

Aiki Homes
Whatcom Talk Article on Millworks Cohousing
How ENERGY STAR Certification is Calculated
Built Green


Peabody Townhomes

Peabody Townhomes | Peabody St, Bellingham
The RJ Group

The Peabody Street Infill Project consists of seven townhomes within the Fountain District Urban Village. It is the first Infill Toolkit project within the City of Bellingham and offers new housing forms that showcase the toolkit’s ability to implement Bellingham’s urban infill strategy.

  • Revitalized an underutilized parking lot in the Fountain District
  • Human scale streetscape was created with vertically oriented windows, porches and courtyards oriented towards Peabody Street
  • Two units feature their own accessible dwelling units (ADUs), 400-square-foot carriage-house spaces above the garage that can be used as guest suites or mother-in-law homes.

Bellingham’s Infill Toolkit
About ADUs
Bellingham Business Journal Article about Peabody Townhomes

Samish Commons

Samish Commons | Otis St, Bellingham
Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authority

Samish Commons is a development project with the intention of revitalizing Samish Way. The site features three separate buildings containing 172 affordable rental homes and 20,000 square feet of commercial space along the Samish Way frontage.

  • Housing options consist of a range of affordable rents from 30% Area Median Income to Market rate and includes 53 apartments for senior citizens age 62 and older, 14 apartments for families transitioning out of homelessness, and 25 apartments for families with a member who is living with a disability
  • Samish Commons has an integrated and sustainable design that promotes a more walkable neighborhood
  • There is an emphasis in green space with a courtyard and open space available between all buildings

Samish Commons Virtual Grand Opening
Samish Commons Website
Bellingham and Whatcom County Housing Authority
Designed by RMC Architects

Telegraph Townhomes

Telegraph Townhomes |Telegraph Rd, Bellingham
Kulshan Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity Whatcom County

Telegraph Townhomes is a project by Kulshan LLC and Habitat for Humanity that put the community first. As described by RMC Architects, it is “for the community, by the community, to strengthen the community.” These townhomes along Telegraph Rd were made with the effort of the community and future homeowners themselves.

  • Built to Passive House expectations with customizations for long-term maintenance affordability
  • The first 12 Telegraph Townhomes will all have solar installations (thanks to a generous grant from Puget Sound Energy and gift in-kind from Western Solar)
  • Great access to services, transportation, and Bellingham’s Park Trail system

Telegraph Townhomes by Kulshan Community Land Trust
Designed by RMC Architects
Passive House Principles

The Millworks

The Millworks | Laurel St & Cornwall Ave, Bellingham
Mercy Housing and Millworks LLC

Not yet constructed, but coined as ‘The Millworks’ by the Whatcom Community Foundation, is a future project to revitalize the waterfront as a place for people to live, work, and play. The project is said to feature a food campus to create local commerce, as well as around 70 units of workforce housing with services surrounding such as childcare facilities and healthcare services.

  • This redevelopment project consists of 237 acres of Bellingham’s central waterfront
  • Master Plan includes up to 12 pages for Environmental Considerations (chapter three) to ensure that the project is environmentally conscious of the sensitive habitats at the waterfront shoreline
  • RMC Architects identified a development center to the project to help bring the neighborhood together in a central plaza and also proposed new routes to the waterfront for both pedestrians and vehicles

Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan
RMC Architects Waterfront Overlay
Whatcom County Foundation Community Initiatives
Mercy Housing Press Release