The City of Seattle is hosting a community meeting on Thursday, June 28 at the 415 Westlake event space (415 Westlake Ave.) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. City staff and the Low Income Housing Institute will be present to answer community questions and provide an update on the Aloha Village.
At the community meeting on May 31, neighbors had the opportunity to engage with staff and ask questions. We have posted answers to the questions that we heard most frequently below.
Would a tiny house village at this site screen for sex offender status, active warrants, and/or other criminal history prior to letting people live there?
LIHI will be doing background checks for people staying in Aloha Village.
Are there any environmental concerns about using this site as a housing location?
The City is conducting site testing to ensure that this location can safely host a permitted village.
Why did the City give neighborhood residents such mixed messages about this proposed project?
There is a crisis of homelessness in Seattle. In the response to that crisis, it is important to find a balance between the urgent creation of more safe spaces for people living unsheltered and community engagement.
Mayor Durkan proposed the siting of this village in South Lake Union as part of her plan to serve more than 500 additional people per night. Before the City could implement this plan there had to be site testing, City Council approval of the spending plan, and community engagement. The decision was made to inform the community before all those steps were completed, so that neighbors had as much notice as possible of the proposed plan. We understand that this created confusion and we look forward to learning from this experience to improve community engagement.
How did LIHI get chosen as the operator of this proposed site?
The City has contracted with LIHI since 2015 to provide operations at permitted encampment villages. The City would like to develop additional provider capacity to provide village operations through technical assistance and open funding processes. Due to the sensitive timeline for expanding beds for individuals living unsheltered however, it wasn’t possible to run a full funding process for this project.
What are the Codes of Conduct for tiny house village residents?
Each village has a Code of Conduct that residents must follow. These documents are publicly available on the City of Seattle’s Homelessness Response website at https://www.seattle.gov/homelessness/city-permitted-villages. Once on the site, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the + symbol next to a location to review the Code of Conduct and other information relevant to that site.
How much does it cost to operate one of these villages?
Costs vary by village and is dependent on a variety of factors. The City of Seattle invests between $204k-$528k per village for operations and services.
Where can community members locate data about neighborhood crime statistics?
Community members can find Seattle crime data on the Seattle Police Department website at https://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data/public-data-sets.
How will community member’s questions about this project be answered?
Questions will be answered at the next community meeting on Thursday, June 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at 415 Westlake. Information can also be found on the City’s Homelessness Response Blog at https://homelessness.seattle.gov/.
If a tiny house village is sited at this location, how long will it stay in place?
Under the current ordinance, permitted villages on private or public land can operate for 12 months with an option for an additional 12-month extension.
What is the best way for community members give input on this project?
Community members can provide input on this proposed project at the next community meeting on Thursday, June 28, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at 415 Westlake. Community members can also provide input via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All input received via email becomes part of the public record for this project and will be used to help inform project design.
Will this tiny house village be drug and alcohol free?
The goal of this tiny house village is to provide safer living conditions for people living without shelter and help them to get into permanent housing. With that goal in mind, the village will not exclude residents who come into the program with alcoholism and/or chemical dependency issues. All residents will be required to follow a Code of Conduct that prohibits using drugs or alcohol in communal spaces. Additionally, each resident will participate in case management services which will connect them to other supports as needed to help them reduce any barriers they face to getting into or maintaining housing.
How do low-barrier tiny house villages work?
The goal of the villages is to be as flexible possible to allow people who have been living outside for long periods of time access to shelter and services and work towards obtaining a permanent place to live. Given that some individuals living unsheltered suffer from alcoholism or chemical dependency, sobriety is not a requirement for living some tiny house villages. The people who chose to live at a village are informed of the program rules and agree to fully participate in case management and community activities. Staff are on site 24/7 to enforce a code of conduct and provide security oversight.
In practice, this means that a person is not expected to abstain from using alcohol or other drugs so long as, (1) they do not engage in these activities in public while in the village and (2) their behavior is respectful of other villagers, staff and community members.
What happens if a tiny house village is sited in this neighborhood and then we start to see an increase in crime?
Crime increases and decreases in neighborhoods can be due to a variety of factors. The Seattle Police Department tracks and analyzes crime on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. If a particular neighborhood sees in increase in crime the Captains are aware of that and are accountable to the Chief of Police to create a plan to address the issues.
Do neighborhoods with tiny house villages get extra police patrols?
Crime data, including any upticks in crime, is taken into consideration when making decisions on where to assign patrol resources. Emphasis patrols have been used to address areas of concern, when warranted.
How did this location get selected as a potential tiny house village site?
The City completed an assessment of available properties to identify those that were suitable and geographically distributed across the city. Identifying a suitable site while addressing the concerns of the surrounding community is a challenging aspect of developing a permitted village. In addition to the characteristics above, the City assesses a site for environmental considerations to ensure that it can safely host a village and evaluates cost considerations for site preparation (fencing, gravel and soil preparation) and water/electrical hook up.
The City also considers a site’s proximity to services like laundry facilities, governmental offices, food pantries, meal programs, and non-profit agencies and whether it can be accessed by mobile services programs like the Mobile Medical Van and by public transit. Whenever possible, permitted villages are not sited in high-crime areas and we consider whether a program is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and businesses.
What outcomes are attached to tiny house villages? What are they trying to accomplish?
The goal of tiny house villages is identical to that of emergency shelters; to provide individuals living unsheltered with a safer place to live, connect them to resources, and support them in finding permanent housing. Tiny house villages are tied to the same system-wide performance measures as emergency shelters
How can the community provide ongoing input about this village?
All villages have a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that provides advisory input on operations. Members of the CAC include businesses, community leaders, immediate neighbors, service providers and others. The committee of seven stakeholders meets monthly and meeting notes get posted on the City of Seattle’s Homeless Response website (www.seattle.gov/homelessness). If you would like to serve on the CAC. Please contact Josh Castle at email@example.com or Tom Van Bronkhorst at tom.vanBronkhorst3@seattle.gov. Community members may also provide feedback to the City of Seattle via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the City of Seattle’s current role in this project? What would their role be going forward?
The City of Seattle’s Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) department is acting as the general contractor for the two City-owned sites. That team is responsible for the site design, the construction of the structures and the infrastructure/ utilities that are required to operate the site. Once an operator is identified and the site opens the day-to-day management and property maintenance will be handed off to them.
The City of Seattle’s Fire Department, SCDI, and Seattle-King County Public Health would perform periodic, unannounced inspections of the site to ensure all safety codes are being met. Additionally, the City of Seattle Human Services Department would contract with LIHI to provide onsite case management and operations of this village.
What would the staffing plan look like?
A LIHI staff person would be on duty 24/7 to monitor activities and respond to inquiries from both residents and community members. The staff would perform regular perimeter checks, organize trash cleanups, and respond to neighbors. LIHI would also provide an onsite case manager to support residents’ housing search and help connect them to other community supports as needed.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about how we are responding to the crisis of homelessness in Seattle.