Tiny House Villages – One Part of the City’s Emergency Strategy
The unsheltered crisis presents many challenges to the region’s homelessness response system. Traditional programs and shelters remain a critical frontline resource for the thousands of vulnerable people living unsheltered. However, the City of Seattle continues to explore innovative programs that can meet the complex needs of some of the hardest-to-serve populations.
In 2015, the City opened three permitted encampments that were on City property to provide safe places for vulnerable unsheltered communities to set up tents. Seattle was one of the first cities in the nation to use public property in this way, providing people a safer space that was self-managed by individuals, had basic sanitation services, and provided part-time case management.
Since then, the City learned these programs could be more successful in connecting people to housing with additional support and investments. Resources provided through Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Path to 500 and the support of the community made these enhancements a reality. The tents have been replaced with insulated, wooden sleeping structures, referred to as tiny houses, and the program has expanded from three encampments to eight villages that provide 283 safe spaces for people across the program.
The villages today have full-time case managers working with residents, running water or hygiene trailers, enhanced supportive services, and expanded kitchens. Villages are now recognized by regional and federal agencies as shelter units within the homelessness response system.
Through these investments, the village program is performing well overall, seeing a 32% exit rate to permanent housing in the first quarter of 2019, comparable to the exit rate of other enhanced shelter programs funded by the City. (Second quarter data is being finalized and will be published later in September.) The City’s Navigation Team—a group of outreach workers and specially-trained police officers who connect people living unsheltered to safer spaces—reports villages are some of the most sought-after shelter resources for people living unsheltered. Because of these results, the City is committed to keeping this type of shelter capacity available in programs across the Seattle.
Three villages, Othello, Camp Second Chance, and Georgetown all reached the end of their respective permits in March 2019 and each were extended six months. These extensions expire in September 2019.
LIHI announces faith partner for Othello Village
The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), operator of the Othello Village, has notified the City of Seattle that Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church (Truevine) will sponsor Othello Village. This village, located on LIHI property in the Othello neighborhood, is a critical shelter resource to the City’s homelessness response effort. This new partnership between LIHI and Truevine allows the village to remain in its current location until LIHI develops their property into affordable housing in 2021.
During the original six-month extension, LIHI was approached by faith groups to explore avenues to keep the village on LIHI property. This type of use is allowed under City code, which provides for a faith group to sponsor a program like this village. True Hope Village in Seattle’s Central District also operates under this permitting structure.
Othello Village provides 40 units of shelter to residents and has seen a 53% exit rate to permanent housing in the first quarter of 2019.
Next Steps—Othello Village
LIHI and Truevine will hold a public meeting in September or October to allow community and residents to learn more about the village. LIHI will continue its practice of hosting monthly Community Advisory Council (CAC) meetings, with Truevine members taking an active role in engaging with the neighborhood.
Georgetown Village and Camp Second Chance permits extended additional six-months
The City of Seattle will extend the permits for Camp Second Chance and Georgetown Village through March 2020, allowing these programs to continue sheltering vulnerable populations through the winter months and to provide more time to identify best next steps for both programs. City representatives have already been engaging with community leaders regarding the future of both villages. The City will be meeting with broader communities in both neighborhoods in September and October.
Camp Second Chance and Georgetown Village are both operated and managed by LIHI. While both programs enjoy community support, each village has operated at their current locations longer than originally anticipated.
Georgetown Village provides 45 units to people recently living unsheltered and has seen a 17% exit rate to permanent housing in the first quarter of 2019. Camp Second Chance provides 48 units of shelter and has seen a 20% rate exit to permanent in the first quarter of 2019.
Next Steps—Georgetown Village
The City will be attending the Georgetown Community Council’s September 16 meeting to discuss all possibilities for the village, which may include shifting shelter capacity away from the village and ramping down operations, similar to the effort to safely ramp down the Licton Springs Village once it reached the end of its permit. LIHI has been approached by a faith group to sponsor the village, but such discussions are in the early stages and a faith sponsorship is not anticipated in the near-term.
Representatives from the City’s Seattle Human Services Department, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Neighborhoods will attend the public meeting, details below:
Monday, September 16, 2019
Georgetown Community Council General Membership Meeting
Georgetown Old City Hall (Tentative)
6202 13th Ave South
Next Steps—Camp Second Chance (Myers Way)
City representatives have engaged with community groups regarding a meeting to discuss Camp Second Chance. Community members have informed City representatives that they would like a public meeting to occur once a formal plan for Camp Second Chance is ready to be released. While LIHI has been approached by a faith group to sponsor Camp Second Chance, no final agreement has been reached at this time.
The City plans to host or attend a public meeting in October 2019 to discuss all options for the village, which may include a plan to keep the village beyond March 2020 with a faith sponsorship or to begin the process of shifting capacity to a different program and ramping down operations at the village.
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