Home | Visitor's Guide | Login Reminder | Contact Us | Subscriptions | Help Wanted
La Conner Weekly News | La Conner, WA

home : news : news
November 16, 2018

11/7/2018 12:45:00 PM
Living their faith got Kory Slaatthaug and Mickey Bambrick in the Seattle Times
Pleasant Ridge couple’s generous spirit makes Seattle Times

By Bill Reynolds
Nuggets from Norway was the name of a popular La Conner Weekly News column penned by Mickey Bambrick.
Now Bambrick and husband Kory Slaatthaug are recognized as Gems of Puget Sound by media from all around the globe.
This after the local couple was glowingly featured – and deservedly so – in an article written by Seattle Times real estate reporter Mike Rosenberg. It is reprinted in today’s paper.
Rosenberg shared the remarkable story of Mickey’s and Kory’s faith-based decision to not charge rent this month of thanksgiving at their Seattle area apartment building.
The story, which ran Oct. 25, has garnered much notice and led to numerous interview requests from far and wide, Mickey told La Conner Weekly News this week.
“It’s been overwhelming,” she said. “It went out on the AP (Associated Press) wire. We’ve been contacted by CBS and Fox News. I’ve spoken to Chris Wallace on the phone several times.
“There’s definitely been a lot of feedback,” Mickey added. “It’s gotten international coverage. We didn’t expect all the attention.”
Mickey, of course, is more comfortable being in the role of interviewer than that of an interview subject.
Her columns addressing life on Pleasant Ridge and in Norway were well-received and widely-read, earning praise from retired La Conner Weekly News editor Sandy Stokes and Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association (WNPA) contest judges.
In addition, Nuggets from Norway was used as a resource in high school World Geography classes.
She and Kory were surprised when contacted by Rosenberg, who learned of the couple’s generosity through a grateful tenant. With some hesitation, they consented to a sit-down with the reporter.
“I thought he and the Times did a very respectful job with the article,” Mickey said, noting that landlords don’t always receive great press.
Their story couldn’t help but be positive.
They will not collect rent from their 11 Greenwood units until December, Mickey and Kory say, in observance of an Old Testament passage citing the Year of Jubilee, which states that after 50 years debts are to be forgiven.
In Biblical terms, a jubilee is the celebration or anniversary of a special event.
For Mickey and Kory, it relates to the Lunde Apartments. It was in 1968 that Kory, a carpenter, took up the trade in earnest to complete construction of the complex following his father’s passing.

Under Kory’s and Mickey’s management the apartments have long reflected a family atmosphere – named as they are after the town in Norway where Kory’s father was raised.
Their selfless spirit doesn’t surprise Mickey’s and Kory’s many La Conner area friends.
“Curt and I have lived next to Kory and Mickey for 15 years,” said Pleasant Ridge neighbor Lori Buher, who is counselor at La Conner middle and high schools. “We’ve always found them to be generous with both their time and their resources. They know how to ‘walk the walk’, that’s for certain.”
Stokes echoes those sentiments.
“Kory,” she said, “spends every winter taking care of homeless people, giving them dry socks, blankets, rides and food. Most people don’t know that about him.”
They do now.
His and Mickey’s generosity is no longer under the radar, but is in newspapers and on the airwaves everywhere.

Story by Mike Rosenberg
Seattle Times real estate reporter
Published October 25, 2018 in Seattle Times
Husband and wife Kory Slaatthaug and Mickey Bambrick are landlords. For the past half-century, Slaatthaug’s family has owned a small apartment building in Greenwood named for the Norwegian town where Kory’s father grew up.
They’re also devout Pentecostal Christians. When Slaatthaug, a 74-year-old retired carpenter, does repairs at the building, he drives there in a Jeep with a 4-foot-tall Bible on top.
The Old Testament has a passage about the year of jubilee – every 50 years, debts are to be forgiven.
So Slaatthaug and Bambrick are celebrating the family’s 50 years as property owners by doing something unheard of for a landlord: For the month of November, everyone in the 11-unit building goes rent-free.
No catch. Just take the month off from paying rent.
They’ve been planning the gift for a year, scrimping and saving along the way to make the money work. Bambrick didn’t want to reveal how much is involved. But based on the number of units and the usual rents, it’s safe to say the gift cost them in excess of $15,000.
“It’s a big chunk of change we’re missing out on. It’s a big hit,” said Bambrick, 61.
The bills, of course, take no jubilee. In addition to property taxes that run $1,400 a month, they still have to pay the bank for a second mortgage they took out to upgrade the complex, plus bills they pay for water, sewer, garbage, and all of their own personal expenses.
Slaatthaug certainly has a different philosophy about money than your standard capitalist. He said he views money and all other possessions as being borrowed from God for his use while he’s alive. “I’m not taking anything with me,” he said.
About once a week, he said, they get an offer to sell the property and cash in on Seattle’s gold rush. He said he told one of the real-estate agents about his rent-free plan recently and they were aghast.
“There’s a term, oh, what is it called …” he said while on the phone recently; his wife, the money manager, yelled out “cap rate” – the estimated return on a real estate investment. He continued: “It doesn’t pencil out on cap rate very well.”

Earlier this month they surprised their tenants with a rent notice slipped under the door – typically a dreaded thing for a renter to find. Then, before the tenants could react in person, the couple immediately headed off to California to help a widowed friend repair her house.
Bambrick already gives welcome baskets to renters when they move in. Every Valentine’s Day, her tenants get a box of chocolates. Each Easter, a basket. Each Halloween, a trick-or-treat candy bag. Each Christmas, another basket. Even some former tenants continue to receive Christmas cards.
“There are a lot of longtime residents who feel the same way as we do about Kory and Mickey: They’re like family,” tenant Eric Staples said. “Kory is always around tinkering and improving the apartment and talking with the tenants.”
They already rent out the apartments a bit below market rate. Large one-bedrooms run from $1,100 to $1,400, with parking, water, sewer and garbage included.
They’ve had tenants stay until they die; some as long as 26 years.
“We’re not into the numbers; we’re into creating a home for people,” Bambrick said. “I was a renter for 23 years, and I think renters kind of get treated like crap. And turning into a landlord made me realize, this is their home, and they need love and respect.”
The couple didn’t publicize their gift. Staples posted the letter he received from the landlords on the social-media site Reddit, where it was “upvoted,” or liked, 36,000 times. (And yes, before you ask, someone on the site made the joke about the couple putting the “lord” in “landlord.”)
“I don’t know anything about Reddit, but I guess it came out, and was a big deal,” Slaatthaug said with a shrug.
The Lunde Apartments (pronounced Loon-da) on North Greenwood Circle opened in November 1968, shortly after Slaatthaug’s father died of a heart attack while building it. Kory Slaatthaug then became a carpenter to help finish construction and save his mother from defaulting on the construction loan they had taken out to build the complex. It was a particularly challenging time for a landlord to keep the lights on since the building opened right as the Boeing bust sent people flooding out of the city.
When his mother died in 1992, the building was left to Kory and his brothers, and Kory and Mickey bought out the siblings’ stake. They live in a house in Mount Vernon, where Slaatthaug volunteers helping the homeless, delivering them items in his Bible Jeep.
The jubilee-year reference that inspired the gift comes from Leviticus 25. It describes a process whereby slaves would be freed and debts would be forgiven every 50 years in ancient Israel.
“You shall make the fiftieth year holy and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants,” it reads. “It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.”
Slaatthaug, who describes himself as “a little bit of a radical Christian,” made the modern interpretation to free his tenants of rent payments for a month, figuring it would be “a good way to honor both my heavenly father and my earthly father” who first helped built the apartments.
The couple also encouraged tenants to contribute one-tenth of the savings to charity. At least one plans to do so.
It’s unclear if anyone has done this before. Some apartment owners offer a free month’s rent up front, but not out of the goodness of their hearts: Those are carrots to get people to sign long-term leases and aren’t for existing tenants. And usually those deals are dangled at big new projects owned by investors that have to fill a bunch of units all at once, typically at rents far above the neighborhood average.
Their only son, 19-year-old Kaleb, whom they home-schooled, is at college. They don’t know whether he’ll take on the family business one day, which Kory said would be poetic given how he had the building passed down from his parents.
“Our building isn’t about getting as much money out of it as it is for making a nice place for people to live,” Slaatthaug said.
Mike Rosenberg: 206-464-2266 or mrosenberg@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @ByRosenberg

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Subscription Login


Home | Visitor's Guide | Login Reminder | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Published every Wednesday in La Conner Washington
Located at 119 North Third Street in La Conner. Mail: P.O Box 1465, La Conner WA, 98257. Phone: 360-466-3315

Site Design and Content Copyright 2018 La Conner Weekly News

Software © 1998-2018 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved