The City Council voted to allow as many as 40 tiny house villages in the Seattle city limits, making it possible to quadruple the number of established villages in the city.
Tiny house villages are transitional facilities that give people access to a secure place to sleep and store their belongings, hygiene facilities and a communal kitchen, among other amenities. Inhabitants can also access case management services that pave the way to get them into housing.
There are currently nine city-funded tiny house villages in Seattle, and advocates say that they have a much better track record of getting people into permanent housing than traditional shelters. According to data provided by the city, 37 percent of households that enter tiny house villages exited to housing in the first six months of 2019. That figure was only 4 percent for basic, “mat-on-the-floor” shelter.
“Today’s legislation is an incredible step forward for Seattle’s housing justice movement,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who sponsored the legislation, in a press statement.
The tiny house village model has been promoted by the Low Income Housing Institute, which is a Washington organization that supports the villages with case management and infrastructure, including the construction of tiny houses.
Although they have a decent track record, tiny house villages have not been consistently met with open arms by the communities in which they are sited. The Licton Springs village — a low-barrier village that allowed drug and alcohol use — closed amid safety complaints, and a village located in South Lake Union was targeted by a lawsuit in an attempt to shut it down.
Authorizing the new villages isn’t the same as siting them, and an amendment attached to the legislation sought to ensure that no single council district would receive a concentration of the villages. Villages will also need case management and security.
Silver linings playbook
Mayor Jenny Durkan used her third State of the City address Feb. 18 to celebrate Seattle’s accomplishments, acknowledge its shortcomings and set an agenda for the coming year.
In her speech, delivered at the Rainier Arts Center in south Seattle, Durkan went through a list of programs that came online during her term, including two years of free college for Seattle high school graduates, the abolition of library fines and the creation of Medic One, a new emergency response in the downtown core and Pioneer Square to help people experiencing homelessness.
The mayor plans to launch a new community response program for areas traumatized by gun violence and will ask voters to renew a Transportation Benefit District to maintain transit service in the city.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
Read the full Feb. 26 - Mar. 3 issue.
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