Opportunity Council’s next big effort to ensure everyone has access to a secure and healthy home is now a few steps closer to becoming a reality. Staff recently had the opportunity to tour the soon-to-open Laurel Forest —an apartment complex with 56 affordable new homes for older adults that will open for applications next month.

The apartment complex helps meet two critical needs for the downtown Bellingham community: providing decent and affordable homes for older adults as well as affordable childcare that families and employers need to succeed.

On track to be move-in ready in early 2024, Laurel Forest is designed to build and highlight community. The complex includes a community courtyard with planters and comfortable seating, as well as a multipurpose room equipped with a kitchenette, dining area, board games, and computer stations. The property will also feature artwork by local artists, climate-friendly heat pumps and air conditioning units, a resident library and reading room, laundry facilities, and exercise lookout rooms that offer views of Bellingham Bay. Its downtown location makes it possible for residents to walk to restaurants, grocery stores, local retail shops, medical providers, and other downtown amenities.

Co-located within the complex will be a separate child care center designed to ease the shortage of quality child care providers in downtown Bellingham. The center’s location makes it not only a crucial resource for parents and caregivers working downtown—it also allows for intergenerational learning opportunities—activities shown to improve the health and well-being of older adults and aid in healthy child development.

Designed to be affordable and accessible for older adults with limited incomes, the rent for each apartment is intentionally below market rate and designed to meet the specific needs of older adults. Half of the Village’s apartments will rent for $540 a month and be reserved for people currently earning 30% or less of our local median income. The other half will rent for $900 per month and are reserved for individuals earning up to 50% of the median income. Intended both to help people currently experiencing homelessness as well as prevent others from falling into homelessness, several units will also be reserved for individuals directly exiting homelessness and receiving Opportunity Council housing case management support. Adults over the age of 55 who are interested in making Laurel Forest their home are invited to contact the Laurel Forest property management team starting on December 1st. Interested applicants will be asked to leave their contact information and will be contacted by Opportunity Council property management staff in the order that their request was received.

An architectural drawing shows the floor plan of an apartment building that includes a courtyard and library, as well as having a separate child care center on the property that includes an outdoor play area.

The Laurel Forest senior apartments are an affordable housing property that includes a courtyard, library room, and different room types like ones with bay windows overlooking Bellingham Bay. A separate child care facility on the property includes an outdoor play area.

Four people in reflective vests and hard hats stand in a building that is under construction with wood beams on the ceiling and plywood walls.

Adrienne from Opportunity Council Housing Partners, Greg from Opportunity Council, and Jeff and Linda from Washington State Community Action Partnership visit the construction site of the Laurel Forest apartments.

Four people in reflective vests and hard hats stand on the roof of a building that overlooks the Bellingham Bay waterfront.

Opportunity Council, Washington State Community Action Partnership, and Dawson Construction staff check out the sprawling views of Bellingham Bay from the roof of the Laurel Forest apartment building.