The City of Seattle’s Human Service Department (HSD) has announced Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Village will be temporarily re-permitted for an additional six months. During this time, the City will develop a long-term strategy for these sites with community input that will serve residents of villages and the surrounding community.
Homelessness remains a crisis in Seattle and the City’s responsibility is to provide services and shelter resources that are effective in helping people transition from homelessness to housing—tiny house villages have proven to be one solution within the City’s overall response. In 2018, villages City-wide served 658 unique households and exited 135 households to permanent housing, an increase of 32 percent from 2017. Tiny house villages are also one of the most accessed resources by people contacted by the Navigation Team, which is comprised of specially-trained police officers and outreach workers. moving people out of unsafe encampments and into tiny house villages that provide supportive services that help vulnerable people stabilize and find a path to housing.
Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Village all reached the end of the respective permits, which can be granted under City ordinance or by temporary-use permits. As these three villages approach the permit expiration, the City began working with community stakeholders and service providers to learn about their experiences, outcomes, and impacts with the villages. During this process, the City learned that more time is necessary to include more community feedback in developing a long-term strategy for the villages.
The City’s decision grants monthly temporary-use permits to these sites for the next six months. During this time, the City will develop a long-term strategy for these specific villages, considering all options for the future of these programs and sites. In order to develop these strategies, the City will work with communities to organize meetings in neighborhoods hosting villages to learn more about how the City can be responsive to community needs and how to best serve residents of the villages. Community Advisory Councils for all villages will continue to meet on a regular basis, providing a platform for village residents, community, service providers, and City planners to address topics relevant to the villages.
Temporarily re-permitting Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Villages allows for residents of these villages to continue to receive the care and stability they need to exit homelessness and keeps people from returning to living unsheltered on Seattle’s streets. Under Mayor Durkan’s leadership, the City has opened over 500 safer spaces and HSD is committed to maintaining shelter capacity. Under Mayor Durkan, the City has transitioned all sanctioned encampments to tiny home villages. The City has also added four additional case workers and behavior health specialists.
The City has also learned that siting, developing, and relocating tiny house villages remains an ongoing challenge given property logistics, costs, and program needs of serving people experiencing homelessness. The City has also learned that providing 24/7, enhanced shelter is one of the best solutions to help people off Seattle’s streets and into safer living situations.
The extension of these villages does not impact the status of the other six City-funded villages.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions section for additional details. If you have any questions, please reach out to Homelessness@Seattle.Gov for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does this mean for Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Village?
The City will allow all three villages to continue to operate under temporary-use permits for the next six months. During this time, the City will work with community to host meetings in Highland Park/West Seattle, Georgetown, and Othello to better engage area residents and to address questions from community. During the next six months the City will develop a long-term plan for these sites. The Community Advisory Committees for each of the programs will continue to meet and provide input around operations.
What is current situation regarding LIHI and Nickelsville and how does this temporary extension play in to this?
The announcement to extend these permits does not impact daily operations of these or any tiny house village sites. The City contracts directly with LIHI to operate tiny house villages. Since 2018, the City has included a number of measures—including case management—as a requirement of our contractors to operate these villages. Additionally, transparency into how villages are managed, including resolution of conflicts among residents and staff, is a priority for the City.
LIHI’s and its subcontractor, Nickelsville, have been unable to reach an agreement to provide case management on site and measures to improve transparency into daily operations of the few villages Nickelsville manages. Further, the City has learned of concerning reports pertaining to Nickelsville’s practice of barring people from the program for minor infractions. We share LIHI’s concerns and we support their efforts to provide case management and transparency at these locations. LIHI will be taking over daily management at Othello, Georgetown, and Northlake.
Why did the City wait for these permits to approach expiration?
Over the last few months, the City has been working with community groups, village residents, community members, and service providers to learn about their experiences, concerns, outcomes, and impacts from the village program. What the City learned is that more community voices, relationship building, and time is necessary to develop a long-term strategy that best serves all interested parties.
How will the City work with the residents of these villages?
Over the course of six months the City will work with the operator of the villages to meet with residents regularly and discuss the next steps and their concerns.
What does this mean for other villages?
The City’s village program is permitted through multiple permitting avenues, including temporary use permits. The City and its partners will continue operating these villages under existing permitting authority. There are no new updates for the other villages currently.
Does this mean all villages are staying indefinitely?
No. The City is extending permits for six months at three village locations while developing a long-term plan. Other villages will continue to operate as is. The City has made adjustments at the termination of a 2-year stay as demonstrated by the decision to shift capacity away from Licton Springs—which will no longer operate by April 1 of this year.
Is this permitting process supported by City code?
Yes. The City has multiple permitting avenues for granting uses of property for tiny house villages. The City allows villages to exist by different means including temporary-use permits. Camp Second Chance, Georgetown Village, and Othello Village will be permitted by temporary-use permits for the next six months.
What about the other villages that have permits which will expire in the future?
The other six villages are in various stages of permitting and no changes have been made in status to these sites. During the next six months, the City will be working with community, service provides, and residents in developing a long-term strategy for all tiny house villages.
What happens next with the three villages?
The City will lead a community outreach process by hosting meetings with neighborhoods that are currently home to tiny house villages. These meetings will be ongoing the next six months. During this time, the City will be developing a long-term plan for these and all villages.
What happens during the next six months and what does a long-term plan mean?
City will work with community to host meetings in neighborhoods hosting the villages to better engage area residents and to address questions from community. A long-term plan will examine all options moving forward for the villages, which could include phasing out some sites, like Licton Springs Village, shifting capacity to existing sites, expanding existing locations, or developing new community-based partnerships.
Have the residents of villages been informed about the process and have they provided feedback?
Yes. The City has been working with LIHI to inform residents of the temporary extension of the permits. LIHI and City representatives have organized in-person updates at the impacted villages and will be working with village residents over the next six months to ensure an inclusive and robust engagement strategy regarding the future of tiny house villages.
Is the City exploring religious sponsorship for villages?
The City will consider all options, including religious sponsorship, during the six-month extension for these villages. True Hope Village is a religiously sponsored program and the City has seen early, positive results from this relationship that has served dozens of people experiencing homelessness since opening in the fall of 2018. The City has been approached by additional religious organizations to explore ways to better support the village program. Other non-City funded tiny house villages are religiously sponsored and have operated within Seattle for a number of years.
Why does the City use tiny house villages?
Villages play a critical role in the City’s response to people living unsheltered on Seattle’s streets. Tiny house villages offer 24/7 access, services, individual living spaces, communal areas, and case management on-site—all of which are some of the most requested types of shelter from people living on Seattle’s streets and have shown success in housing people.