Builder, foundation partner to create housing fund

A newly created fund will help direct dollars toward affordable housing projects.

In response to the ongoing number of challenges that homebuyers and renters face on Whidbey Island, a newly created fund will help direct dollars towards affordable housing projects.

Dan Neumeyer, owner of JADE Craftsman Builders, approached the Whidbey Community Foundation in late 2023 about starting such a fund. The foundation, which provides grant awards to Whidbey nonprofit organizations, allows donors that are interested in making an impact in a particular area to start a field-of-interest fund. Thus, the Whidbey Affordable Housing Fund was born.

Neumeyer and Jessie Gunn, the executive director of the Whidbey Community Foundation, shared information about the new fund during a webinar open to the public this week. Since December, the fund has raised over $50,000, which provides seed money for affordable housing projects around the island.

“Our intent isn’t to develop projects,” Neumeyer said. “It’s to look for projects that others are spearheading and provide some financial horsepower for that.”

One example of this in the community that he pointed to is Island Roots Housing, an initiative of Goosefoot Community Fund. An appropriation of $1.6 million in state funding was recently earmarked for Generations Place, an affordable rental apartments project in Langley led by Island Roots Housing.

A 2022 study that assessed the city’s needs for housing found that 61% of renter households are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30% of monthly income goes towards housing costs.

“Many of us know that Whidbey has an ever-growing number of stories of community members that have had to leave the island because they weren’t able to find housing,” Gunn said. “Many of us know, even recently, of businesses that have had to reduce hours or close altogether because hiring has been an issue, and that’s exacerbated by housing.”

Neumeyer came up with the idea of asking his clients if they would be interested in contributing to the Whidbey Affordable Housing Fund. The homeowners he spoke with were concerned about the housing divide and excited about making an impact in the community.

“One can only imagine, if a few other builders were taking part, inviting their clients to participate in this, how successful could we be in raising funds for affordable housing projects in the community,” he said.

Members of the general public are also invited to donate. Others involved in the housing industry – such as realtors or vacation rental managers — are invited to participate. To make a donation, visit

An advisory committee that will review applications and help develop criteria for distribution of the dollars is currently in the works. All grants distributed from the fund must be approved by the Whidbey Community Foundation board of directors.

To learn more, email or call 360-660-5041.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Whidbey Affordable Housing Fund provided funding for Island Roots Housing. The new fund has not yet made contributions to any projects.