Formed as a Community Land Trust in 2005, Homeward Bound’s seven original trustees had a desire to ensure a source of permanent affordable home ownership for families and individuals in Jefferson and Clallam Counties, the foundation of which is the Community Land Trust Model Ground Lease.
Homeward Bound registered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Washington and received 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service in 2005.
In 2006, Homeward Bound was approached by the Clallam County Commissioners to receive four homes to be moved from the Dungeness River Restoration area at Rivers End. Working with the Commissioners, Homeward Bound negotiated a no-interest loan for $68,000 to purchase a lot for the first home to be moved to Lauridsen Blvd. in West Port Angeles., with construction financing provided by Shore Bank Cascadia (now Craft3). The first Homeward Bound homeowner moved into their home in the Spring of 2009.
The remaining three homes from Rivers End were sold at auction, and the resulting funds were used to support Homeward Bound.
In 2009, Homeward Bound successfully applied for a $180,000 grant from the Washington Housing Trust Fund. Utilizing this grant, three more homes were purchased in late 2009 just prior to the bursting of the housing bubble on the Peninsula.
In 2011, a fifth home was acquired by Homeward Bound. This home required extensive renovations, with the vast majority of the labor performed by community volunteers and the future homeowners.
From 2005 to 2014, Homeward Bound provided housing counseling services in Jefferson County under a grant from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. These services included a five-hour homebuyer education class taught by partner lenders and Realtors.
Homeward Bound also provided individual housing counseling, credit counseling, and other services for households purchasing homes both with Homeward Bound and on the open market. These services were provided at no cost. It is hoped that Homeward Bound will resume its housing counseling services in 2018 as staff are identified and trained.
In mid-2016 the City of Port Townsend declared a housing emergency. With vacancy rental rates at 1% and home prices rising to more than a median income family could afford, the city of Port Townsend and City Manager David Timmons reached out to housing organizations in the area to revitalize Homeward Bound, which had been in a relatively dormant period in the few years prior.
In the spring of 2017, in the midst of Homeward Bound’s efforts to identify and elect a new Board of Trustees, an opportunity arose with the availability of a four-unit apartment building in Victoria, British Columbia. The City of Port Townsend loaned Homeward Bound $250,000 to secure the building and move it to its current location on Cherry Street, a 1.5 acre surplus lot purchased from the City of Port Townsend by Homeward Bound for $1. A group of professionals was identified to develop this project, which became known as the Cherry Street Project.
A new 12-member volunteer Board of Trustees was elected on October 4, 2017. This board gathered with the intention of re-establishing Homeward Bound as an active organization.
Over the course of 2018, the team of professionals responsible for the Cherry Street Project dwindled, and eventually the board came to take on more responsibility for the project. As an organization with no staff, and little experience in multi-family building represented on the board, making progress was difficult.
Throughout 2019 the board was able to make significant strides on the Cherry Street Project through establishing new relationships with building professionals. Accomplishments for the year included the construction of the foundation and 80% completion of the pre-construction planning and construction documents.
Part of this process included acquiring a revised budget for the project. The project’s original budget had never been adequately vetted and was missing key improvements, such as wiring, plumbing, and insulation. Homeward Bound delivered a new budget estimate to the City in November 2019, which indicated a sizable gap in funding for the project development. The Board of Trustees also presented a timeline indicating an intention to seek additional funding to complete the project over the following year. However, with no staff to write grants, the volunteer board was extremely limited in its ability to seek the additional funding.
Homeward Bound returned to discussions with the city in May and June to propose a possible path to funding that centered around applying for a Housing Trust Fund grant. Homeward Bound acknowledged that this funding plan would delay construction into at least February 2021; additionally Homeward Bound could not guarantee that a funding package would be successfully acquired in the upcoming funding cycle.
With the already long delay in the Cherry Street Project, and a fast approaching loan repayment date of July 1st, the Homeward Bound Board of Trustees concluded that whatever strategy would bring this affordable housing project to a swift completion was the best way forward.
Homeward Bound and the City agreed that bringing in another agency to work in partnership or to take over the Cherry Street Project would be the swiftest path to completion. The city chose to extend the repayment date to October while talks with other agencies were initiated. Homeward Bound opened the way for those discussions and agreed with the city to pause all development on the project while proposals were discussed.
The Homeward Bound Community Land Trust Board of Trustees is hopeful that the Cherry Street Project will achieve the goal of bringing eight additional affordable units to Jefferson County, without further delays and in a way that will keep the project as affordable housing.