Rendering of Barkley Village

New Urban Village Will Serve Community and Focus on Education

Collaborative Partnerships Create a Culture of Progressive Education

Written by: Joe Thompson
President, MHNW

Sterling Meadows Apartments in Bellingham has been a huge success, with its highly impactful student-focused early learning educational program. Youth who have attended our out-of-school time programs at Sterling Meadows have attained on-time graduation rates which outpace those of the wealthiest locales across the state. For example, from 2013-2020, the graduation rate averaged 98%.

Because of these remarkable results, Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) was recommended by the mayor and City of Bellingham to develop Barkley Family Housing, a 250-acre urban village with a mix of residential, retail, office, and civic uses. We were honored to be selected to work in partnership with the Talbot Group, the developers of Barkley Village. The goal is to create a similar setting to Sterling Meadows; one that provides affordable housing but also focuses on educational opportunity in a neighborhood that has great schools, access to rapid transit, a robust commercial area, and a thriving commerce center.

In collaboration with our partners, MHNW will complete construction on the 77-apartment building in the fall of 2022, that includes an onsite seven-classroom Early Learning Center (ELC), which is being built and designed for the sole purpose of childhood education; this is unique in that many spaces that house children’s learning centers are not designed specifically for that reason. This is the first of its kind in Whatcom County and will be a model to the other communities MHNW is building in the next several years. The Barkley Family Housing’s ELC will be operated by the YMCA of Whatcom County and developed in partnership with the Talbot Group. The ELC will not be exclusively for MHNW residents; rather, it will serve the public and a wide range of incomes.

Similar to Sterling Meadows, Barkley Family Housing will include enhanced Out-of-School Time programs, with the purpose of creating a culture of educational enrichment beginning at age one, and continuing through the high school years. The intent is to create a culture of progressive education all under one roof. Moving forward, MHNW hopes to continue partnering with ELC providers, and creating space in our developments for them, because they not only benefit our residents but the entire community.

Other notable aspects of this MHNW community:

  • 20% of the apartments are set aside for families with a member who has a physical or mental disability.
  • 10% of the apartments are set aside for people who were formerly homeless.
  • Barkley Family Housing is one recipient of the MHNW $1.5 million education-focused grant recently received from the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

Barkley Family Housing funding comes from:

  • City of Bellingham Home Fund
  • Washington State Department of Commerce
  • Washington State Housing Finance Commission
  • Heritage Bank
  • Enterprise Housing Credit Investments LLC
  • Mercy Housing Gap Fund (MHNW used Gap Note funding for the very first time with this project; it was funded at $600K)