New non-profit forms to develop rental housing on Lopez

  • Fri Jan 4th, 2019 4:36pm
  • News

Submitted by Housing Lopez

We’ve all heard stories or know people who live in buses, trailers or cabins with an outhouse.

What’s alarming is that a one-room cabin with an outhouse can now rent for $800 a month. Rents are rising, but incomes are not keeping up. The latest United Way of the Pacific Northwest report shared that almost 1,100 people on Lopez are not earning enough for a basic survival budget. Too many households are paying 50-plus percent of their income on housing.

Lopez Fire Chief Jay Havner stated, “Stable and affordable housing is a key to the success and permanence of our Lopez community. Our dedicated career firefighter paramedics, volunteer emergency medical technicians and volunteer fire fighters are critical to the health and well-being of our community. Yet they struggle with rental housing. One paramedic rents a home, but is required to vacate during the summer months. This life disruption would be avoided if there were enough permanent rental options here on Lopez. Career firefighter paramedics must live on island so they can rapidly be on duty in case of a large disaster or emergency.”

If we don’t have rental housing, we are in danger of losing these critical resources.

There are as many different needs for housing on Lopez as there are different income levels, family sizes and special circumstances like disabilities. We need housing options for everyone, especially rental housing. In order to thrive as a year round community, we need housing options for our essential service workers like teachers, EMTs and senior caregivers. All of our neighbors deserve a safe, secure home.

In the spirit of Lopez, a group of community members have spent thousands of hours and formed a new 501(c)3 nonprofit, Housing Lopez, that is looking at a variety of paths to create innovative solutions to tackle the rental housing crisis. They are an extremely dedicated and talented team with each person having more than 30 years experience. Collectively their skills include: real estate development, architecture, design, construction, finance, property management and much more.

Housing Lopez is looking at several different opportunities, one of which is a Request for Proposal for the San Juan County Public Works parcel on Fisherman Bay Road on Lopez. The San Juan County Council awarded the right to negotiate for this parcel to Housing Lopez at its Nov. 19 meeting. If negotiations are successful, six affordable cottages will be developed there.

Recognizing that this one project is not enough to meet the estimated need for more than 70 rental units for the existing Lopez workers, Housing Lopez is searching for other locations and options to develop more rentals to be sure we can house the essential service workers on whom we all depend. To help or get more information, please email at