The City of Seattle’s permitted tiny house villages offer a place for unsheltered people to find stability and connect to housing resources. Each night, the villages provide more than 350 people a tiny house structure that locks, access to restrooms and showers, case management, a kitchen and a managed community.
Licton Springs Village has been in operation since 2017 under a two-year City permit on property owned by LIHI (Low Income Housing Institute). The village was created in response to the lack of system capacity to serve vulnerable unsheltered men and women encountered by the Navigation Team as they engaged people living unsheltered across Seattle. All residents of Licton Springs Village were referred to the village by the Navigation Team and is part of the City’s broader homelessness response emergency investments, which has seen a 35% increase in placements to housing in the first half of 2018.
The people living at Licton Springs Village are among the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness Seattle: 77%, are chronically homeless (which is believed to be a low estimate). In addition, 68% have experienced more than 12 months of being homeless over the last three years. Data from the Homeless Management Information System shows most residents suffer from either a disability, chronic health condition, mental health condition, or substance abuse issue.
Additionally, the program was designed to serve people for brief periods of time to provide the support, stability, and safety residents need to get help and ultimately find a path to housing. However, over the last two years, the City has learned that it takes much longer to serve such vulnerable residents; 39 of the 53 people have stayed at the village for longer than one year.
The two-year permit expires in March 2019. The City is not exploring the possibility of renewing the village’s permit at this location. Securing permanent housing for Licton Springs Village residents is the goal, and the City will do everything it can to ensure people are not returning to homelessness and are being placed in supportive housing or safe alternatives.
To help meet this goal over the next five months, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) will be adding additional case management and partner agency expertise to assist clients and connect them to housing or safer shelter, including the City’s enhanced shelter beds, which have demonstrated success in moving people to permanent housing. Further, the City is incorporating the valuable lessons from the Licton Springs Village program and applying these improvements into existing and new tiny house villages, including additional case management services in next year’s proposed budget. These program enhancements include:
- Guiding referrals of unsheltered people to programs that most effectively meet their needs;
- Reflect case management ratios and other behavioral and medical health resources reflective of the needs of clients;
- Case management and active housing search efforts should be required of people who enter the village programs; and
- Onsite enrichment programming to support residents transiting from the streets.
With an unprecedented number of people living unsheltered, the City will continue to bring more shelter resources online in the coming months and will explore all options to create safe spaces for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.
You can read more about the City’s permitted villages here.