Affordable Housing in a Crisis on Lopez Island

Over the next several weeks, six local households will be moving into their brand new homes at FishBay Cottages, a new affordable rental development in the Village built by Housing Lopez. The residents were chosen through a process that prioritized Lopez’s essential workforce and required applicants to meet certain income restrictions. From the pool of applicants that met the those two requirements, Housing Lopez used a lottery to select the new residents. Their occupations include teaching, construction, firefighting, landscaping, housekeeping, and retail.

The is the first project for Housing Lopez, a volunteer-driven nonprofit whose mission is to address the severe rental housing crisis on Lopez Island by developing affordable and sustainable rental housing for Island residents. The project site was previously owned by the County and sold to Housing Lopez in 2019 for affordable housing following a competitive process. Over the next two years, Housing Lopez developed a financing plan, selected builders and site developers, engaged in the design and permitting process, and eventually broke ground in Spring 2021. Throughout it all, the Lopez community has been extremely generous, with over 400 people donating over $1mm to make the project a reality.

Housing Lopez chose a local company, Sage Building Solutions, to clear and prepare the site, install the utilities, and build the foundations. Meanwhile, Method Homes was fabricating the 843 sq ft modular homes with environmentally sustainable materials in a controlled environment at their Ferndale factory, unaffected by weather conditions, and with great efficiency and little waste. The results are high quality sustainably built homes that were ferried to the island and placed by crane on their foundations in mid-September and ready for occupancy just two months later.

The affordable rental crisis is certainly not solved with six units and Housing Lopez is eager to get started on its next project – just as soon as we can find a suitable building site. If you know of any parcels that might be appropriate for us, please contact