With the debate continuing at City Hall over moves to transition away from emergency shelter solutions, Seattle is moving forward with one small plan to build more so-called “tiny houses” in the city.
Wednesday, the Seattle City Council’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee chaired by Sally Bagshaw will begin moving on a plan from Mayor Jenny Durkan to sell an $11 million city-owned South Lake Union property to fund an “Innovative Housing Strategy Subcabinet” tasked with increasing the city’s “capacity to quickly and cost-effectively move people experiencing homelessness” into “bridge shelter or bridge housing.”
The “bridge” options the cabinet will look at include “mass shelter tents, hard sided tents, wood-frame sheds, portable modular bunkhouses or cabins, backyard cottages, and the master leasing of existing apartments.”
Some $5.5 million from the planned property sale has been proposed to fund the cabinet’s initiative.
“Since 2015, the City has successfully developed and managed six city-sanctioned encampments, most of which include tiny wooden structures that have quickly added capacity of the emergency shelter system,” a resolution also being readied by Bagshaw’s committee reads. “A July 2017 assessment of the first three City-sanctioned encampments that they are an effective homeless response strategy to meet the immediate needs of people without shelter, especially those who have been living outside for long periods. The City-sanctioned encampments not only address individuals’ immediate shelter needs but are also seeing success in working to resolve residents’ homelessness with permanent housing.”
The proposed $11 million sale would leave $2.4 million for the city’s displaced IT communications facility to find a new location and lease.
An additional $2 million from the plan is proposed to create a new Seattle Rental Housing Assistance Pilot Program to help “prevent households from falling into homelessness while awaiting longer-term assistance from the Seattle Housing Authority.”