Seattle council raises cap on sanctioned homeless camps, tiny home villages

Feb 19, 2020, 8:07 AM

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A resident walks past a row of tiny houses at a homeless encampment in Seattle. (AP File Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(AP File Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to increase the allotment on sanctioned homeless encampments and tiny home villages.

Seattle council weighs bill raising cap on sanctioned encampments

The measure raises the limit on city-approved camps from three to 40. Camps are also required to go through a rigorous permitting approval process, in addition to providing funding sources and a suitable site.

It encompasses tiny home villages, sanctioned tent cities, and vehicle safe lots. Encampments would also be permitted in residential zones.

“Today’s legislation is an incredible step forward for Seattle’s housing justice movement,” said Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

Tuesday’s vote passed by a 6-1 margin, with District 4 Councilmember Alex Pedersen operating as the sole opposition. Pedersen argued that the bill would only serve to exacerbate problems with tents in Seattle, that some have criticized as dangerous and unsanitary.

Pedersen attempted to introduce a series of amendments and substitute bills, all of which were rejected. One would have reduced the cap on camps to 15, while another would have made it so the measure expires in three years. The bill has no expiration date in the final version passed by City Council.

Tacoma OKs tiny home villages to combat growing homeless crisis

Advocates like the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) touted the measure as a victory for expanding Seattle’s infrastructure for tiny home villages.

“This is a historic vote,” said LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee. “Tiny House villages are a proven way to help save lives. Over 3 years, nearly 500 people in Tiny House villages have moved into permanent housing.”

LIHI has been contracted by the city to run a series of tiny home villages across Seattle for years now.

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Seattle council raises cap on sanctioned homeless camps, tiny home villages