Are tiny house villages in Seattle a long-term solution?
There are currently seven sanctioned tiny house villages similar to the proposed one at South Lake Union, with additional ones being planned. At the heart of the neighborhood resistance is whether such encampment sites are long-term solutions, or quick fixes that enable some of the associated problems.
“What do you do when you go to Mr. Smith and say, ‘Here are the services offered. We see that you have a problem with heroin and we’d like to help you with that, and after that we’d like to talk to you about job training,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “And they’re like, ‘No, I’m good now. I’ve got a little crap box I can live in, I don’t need your services.”
“Should there be some external force on that individual who turns down the opportunity to improve their life?”
“If they can stabilize their shelter, that allows them to stabilize other things like regular employment,” Mike said. “Do you require then that they start going through X services or you evict them? That’s a tougher question. My gut feeling is that if you get them off the streets, you can at least get a percentage of the folks moving upwards and onward.”
But Curley thinks a longer-view needs to be taken when planning these encampments.
“I think you want to do more than get them off the street. I think the end goal is to get them to be self-sufficient and have a dignified life.”
Tiny homes lawsuit
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan recently announced plans to create 500 emergency shelter beds within 90 days, and some of those included a tiny house village in South Lake Union at Eighth Avenue North and Aloha Street. But the proposed site has been met with neighborhood resistance, and a new lawsuit contends Seattle violated its own housing laws in issuing the construction permit, reports The Seattle Times.
“They’re essentially saying the city didn’t follow its own policies regarding building,” said KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis.
Brought by Olympia-based think-tank Freedom Foundation, the suit alleges that the city failed to conduct an environmental review, neglected a proper amount of community outreach, and is in breach of an ordinance limiting the number of homeless camps. The construction permit was issued to the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute. There are no set dates on its development.
“If the city has a plot of land in the area that is the most expensive real estate in Seattle at this juncture?” Mike wondered. “Why not just sell that plot of land? I don’t have a problem with putting housing for the poor in any neighborhood. I don’t think it should be limited to bad sections of town like historically has been done.”
“But this area is so expensive. Could you not fund more housing if you just sold off that plot of land and paid for it in some other place?”