The housing crisis next door

Posted 4/10/24

They are exactly the kind of young, working-class family we want to keep in Port Townsend. And unless some open-hearted angels feel inspired to help them financially, they will be forced out in …

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The housing crisis next door


They are exactly the kind of young, working-class family we want to keep in Port Townsend. And unless some open-hearted angels feel inspired to help them financially, they will be forced out in mid-summer.

For over six years, Bobbie, Brent, and their three children have blessed us as the renters next door. It’s been a joy to watch Morgan (17), Teagan (13), and Olivia (12) return from public school every day and variously disappear into the house or play outdoors. Until 2021, they’d often walk with their great grandmother whom they sheltered and cared for until her death at age 90. I’ve celebrated as Brent, 42, advanced to his current job as chocolatier at Elevated Ice Cream—a position akin to Santa Claus as a bringer of joy—and Bobbie, 42, coincidentally found supportive employment in, of all places, my doctor’s office at Jefferson Healthcare.

Because Brent and Bobbie’s aging landlords are experiencing health challenges, they need to sell. Their asking price of $560,000 is more than reasonable and below market value—they’d love to make it possible for the family to remain—but it’s far more than Brent and Bobbie can swing while supporting three children.

The family has qualified for an FHA loan, but it has a cap of $425,000. With virtually no emergency savings to use for a down payment, they need a way to close the $135,000 gap. They’ve consulted with / applied to HUD, Habitat for Humanity, OlyCap, Housing Solutions, USDA, Rural Development, Kitsap Credit Union, and more. We know of no state programs that can help them, and no local housing initiatives that will be available in time. Housing Solutions Network may be poised to launch a county-wide survey of housing needs, but Brent and Bobbie need to act now.

Whenever the family has found a potential funding source, they’re told they make too much money or don’t have sufficient credit to qualify. Such is the preposterous Catch 22 reality that’s forcing more and more working people into substandard housing or homelessness. 

The family is deeply rooted in Port Townsend. Brent, who was raised in Bothell, frequently visited his grandparents’ weekend apartment on Water Street as a child. His fondest memories are of playing on the beach at Fort Flagler and attending the Wooden Boat Festival. His grandfather did volunteer repair work on the fabled Arthur Foss tugboat that starred in the film, “Tugboat Annie,” and now sits land-locked in Seattle’s Wooden Boat Museum.

Bobbie and Brent moved to Port Townsend from Bobbie’s hometown of Moses Lake, where they had been caring for Brent’s grandparents and working at the big box mecca known as Walmart. “We have all found stability in Port Townsend,” said Bobbie. “After a month here, it felt like home. I never felt that at Moses Lake, where even people we knew for years would not say ‘Hi.’ Here, everyone walking by says ‘Hi’ whether we know them or not.

“We love being this close to the beach and Cappy’s Trails, and how quiet it is. Plus, there’s no gang activity. In Moses Lake, we once had a shooting outside Morgan’s bedroom window, and my brother’s best friend was shot in a drive-by.”

“It’s nice to live in a community that is open-minded,” Brent said. He’s reassured that the kids are enrolled in a liberal school system where teachers listen to and respect their students. “Respect did not happen in Moses Lake,” Bobbie noted. She knows—their kids’ teachers were the same ones she suffered with.

Stability and safety are essential to this family’s future. Morgan, their oldest, has Loeys Dietz Syndrome, a progressive connective tissue disorder that will require heart surgery, and the two younger children are at a particularly fragile age. Given how wonderful our neighborhood is, staying put is ideal.

The family has run out of options. They need your assistance to remain in the house that has become their home. As much as I shudder at the thought of starting yet one more GoFundMe—how many of those have you seen in the last month or two?—I’ve created one for them at Alternately, you can contact me about contributions at

It is one thing to read story after story about the housing crisis; it’s another thing to experience it first-hand or watch it unfold next door to people whom you care about. Rather than stand by passively, I ask for your help. I’m poised to stage the biggest and bestest “Welcome home” party ever held in our neighborhood. But it won’t happen, and this family will not remain here, without your assistance.