The Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF) recognizes that access to affordable housing is the most pressing need currently facing the Orcas community.  When our workforce, our seniors, and our young families can’t find places to live, the entire community suffers. As OluTimehin Adegbeye said in her TED Talk, “the minimum requirement for a dream is a safe place to lay one’s head.” Unfortunately, many of our residents can not yet meet that minimum, as the cost of renting or purchasing a home is simply un-affordable.

The OICF Board is committed to making this situation better. OICF has contributed $250,000 to OPAL Community Land Trust’s April’s Grove affordable rental project. Once built, April’s Grove will have 45 rental town homes ranging in size from studio apartments to three bedrooms. Rents will be regulated to ensure long term affordability.

The OICF grant will allow OPAL to begin the groundwork on the project this fall. The project still needs about $1.4 million in donations, but has secured bridge loans that will enable construction on the buildings to begin early in 2019.

This is the largest grant that OICF has ever made. It is possible thanks to a legacy gift from Bob Henigson. Bob was a bold philanthropic leader. He left Orcas a stronger, healthier and better educated community. The OICF Board is honored to be able to expand his legacy with this gift. Bob believed everyone should have the ability to dream and the hope of making those dreams reality.

The OICF Board has also endorsed the Affordable Housing Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) that is Proposition 1 on the ballot this November. Affordable housing is a complex and difficult issue. Orcas is fortunate to have OPAL Community Land Trust to lead the efforts for our community. We also need the energy and focus of the entire community to address this issue and it requires more than philanthropic resources to accomplish the work.  The funding created by this REET will provide sustained revenue that can be leveraged with other state and federal funding opportunities to increase resources for future affordable housing and to provide necessary repairs for existing housing stock.

Complex community issues require creative and varied responses. The Orcas Island Community Foundation encourages everyone to invest as donors, volunteers, and voters to help ensure that all who call Orcas home has a dry, warm, affordable and safe place to lay their head.

All the best,