Gifts enable OPAL to acquire 30 acres for future affordable housing

Submitted by OPAL Community Land Trust

OPAL Community Land Trust recently purchased nearly 30 acres of land in Eastsound.

In keeping with OPAL’s long-term strategy of thoughtfully stewarding land for the benefit of the community and assuring that Orcas islanders will have access to homes they can afford, the board of trustees took action to acquire the property with a vision of affordable housing in future years.

The purchase of the parcel, located on the north side of Bartel Road, was made possible by a recent bequest from Barbara Brown, a life-long islander and long-time OPAL supporter, and anonymous donors who want to help offset the island’s income inequality by assuring that land on Orcas is available for affordable housing.

“This is a once-in-a-generation purchase,” said Lisa Byers, OPAL’s executive director. “OPAL trustees, staff and those who contributed to the purchase envision developing the property for future generations. It will take years and many community meetings to determine what is right for this property.”

In the immediate future, OPAL will continue efforts to help those islanders who have lost wages due to the pandemic remain in their homes. In addition, OPAL plans over the next couple of years to add six more permanently affordable houses on land already owned by OPAL and held in trust for the benefit of the community.

With the recent completion of the April’s Grove neighborhood of 45 rental townhomes in Eastsound, OPAL Community Land Trust now provides permanently affordable rental or ownership housing for 184 households on Orcas Island.