Letter: Housing project will help make Langley affordable for families


I would like to provide some context regarding a letter to the editor published April 17 in the South Whidbey Record about Generations Place, a multi-family workforce rental housing project in Langley.

First, the Goosefoot Community Fund has been concerned with issues of affordable housing since its establishment 25 years ago. The most recent effort started in 2022 when the Goosefoot Housing Group was formed. Last year that group incorporated in Washington State as Island Roots Housing, or IRH, and is now waiting for its IRS determination as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. While Goosefoot continues to provide in-kind funding and sees incubating and launching this effort as integral to our mission, IRH has its own board of directors. This board is comprised of experts in affordable housing, finance, land development, construction, ecology, nonprofit management, fundraising and those with a lived experience of housing insecurity, all of whom live on Whidbey. They have collectively devoted 1000s of pro bono hours — the equivalent of over $100K in kind — over the last couple years.

Rose Hughes, IRH’s managing director, who has substantial experience in finance, nonprofits and affordable housing, is leading this effort. She and her IRH colleagues are making every effort to ensure community input on Generations Place is not only heard but thoughtfully responded to. In addition, they have been working with Langley’s Planning Department from the earliest design stages to verify plans are compliant with every code on the books, while also weighing multiple design elements and the cost of the project as a whole.

Financing affordable housing is one of the most complex processes of any development effort because of the constraints that state and federal funding put on such a project. To bolster Generations Place’s feasibility and viability, this highly-skilled group has left no stone unturned and no perspective or opportunity unconsidered throughout this process.

Stepping back, it’s also important to note that South Whidbey would not be what it is today if young families a few decades ago couldn’t have found housing when they wanted to move here. These are the same people who helped establish many of the organizations and institutions that now define Langley’s “character.”

But when it’s unaffordable for the next generations to live and work here — meaning those who are our postal workers, teachers, senior caretakers, restaurant workers, nonprofit and small business employees, childcare providers and more — then it’s a death knell for our community as a whole. What we all know and love here will simply disappear. The services we count on now will no longer be available and the enrichment of having multiple generations from a multitude of backgrounds and life experiences will be sorely diminished. I would hope that’s not the kind of community any of us would choose to live in.

Building 14 units that will allow families with children to live in Langley where they can walk to shopping and public transportation is simply the first step in stabilizing the housing crisis in our community. We will need many more options in the years to come. For now, this is the most promising, multi-family affordable housing project that has emerged in Langley for 35 years. If you really want affordable housing, then let’s get Generations Place built — for our sake and for the sake of future generations who want to call Whidbey home.

Elise Miller

Executive Director

Goosefoot Community Fund