HRB adds expertise to church’s affordable housing project

Housing Resources Bainbridge and Finch Green LLC have announced a partnership to develop affordable housing on the eight-acre parcel owned by Bethany Lutheran Church.

Finch Green is a separate nonprofit created by the church in 2023. Under the agreement, the church will donate a portion of its land just south of the church to HRB to develop in collabortion with Finch Green, and HRB will add the future homes to its community land trust, where they will be kept permanently affordable for households earning at or below 80% area median income.

The land on which the church sits was gifted to the congregation by a community member in the late 1950s. In a spirit of gratitude, the congregation has long envisioned using a portion of its land to serve the community and ultimately identified affordable housing as the most compelling use.

“This partnership is grounded in mutual respect, self-awareness, and a shared concern for the wellbeing of our community,” said David Swartling, Finch Green board president, in an HRB news release. “As far back as the 1990s, Bethany Lutheran has seen the lack of affordable housing displace residents and deter young families. Over the years, we consulted with HRB about what it would take to build affordable housing. The more we learned, the more we came to appreciate that although we had a vision and this incredible gift of land, we did not have the necessary expertise in development and affordable housing regulations. For that, we looked to HRB.”

The opportunity to make the vision a reality arose in 2019 with the passage of a state law that makes it easier for religious organizations to build affordable housing on their land. In 2022, the city of Bainbridge Island passed a law, allowing a maximum of 24 homes on the lot.

“With land costs so high, we never thought we would have another parcel of this size and the opportunity to create a neighborhood as we did at Ferncliff Village, with single-family homes and shared gardens. We are thrilled to bring our expertise in development, government grants and regulatory compliance to such a beautifully conceived community,” Phedra Elliot, HRB executive director, says in the news release.

Davis Studio Architecture and Design is the architect. The homes will range from 800- to 1,400 square feet to suit a range of households, including families and elders living alone. They will be clustered around greenspaces and embody best practices in sustainable design for optimal energy efficiency and a healthier living environment, the release adds. Finch Green is within walking distance of four public schools, the library, the aquatic center and shopping, and is served by a park & ride for ferry commuters.

The project, also named Finch Green, has no religious affiliation.