The HIP began as a grant-funded pilot program launched in 2011 to promote homeowner stewardship of water quality within the Lake Whatcom watershed. The pilot phase, funded in part by the Department of Ecology and running through 2015, provided technical assistance and financial incentives to almost 200 landowners. Of the total project cost, 80% was spent directly on reimbursements to homeowners with more than 150 local private companies providing labor, goods, or services to participants.
After more than a year of research, engaging a wide audience including past HIP participants, current residents, and local professional experts and consultants, the newest version of the HIP launched in 2017. New features include an expanded program area, a professional training and certification program, a program-specific website, and many tools intended to streamline the HIP process and take the headache out of planning, permitting, and hiring professionals.