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True Hope Village, a tiny piece of Seattle’s big homelessness and affordability problem, moves forward in the Central District

Employees of Vulcan gathered for a day of community service to construct the 30 homes destined for the Central District’s True Hope Village (Image: Vulcan)

Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council is set to approve the legislative underpinning to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s “bridge housing” plan creating a $9.5 million a year program for shelter and “tiny house” encampments. So-called bridge housing is the rare cog in Seattle City Hall’s engine that still seems spinning forward for solutions to the city’s intertwined homelessness and affordability crisis. And, despite pushback from within and from beyond the neighborhood, a new tiny house village planned for the Central District might be the most solid effort at this point to build something new to help put more people in shelter.

CHS reported earlier on plans for the encampment and a set of community meetings about the project. The vision has withstood the process. True Hope Village is being constructed at 18th Ave and E Yesler Way.

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which is leading the project, has learned from past skepticism and opposition to the village projects, organizing community meetings earlier in the process to give a space for nearby residents to voice their concerns and create transparency, Josh Castle, director of advocacy and community engagement for LIHI, said.

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There is a code of conduct that every resident who lives in a Tiny House Village must read and sign. It includes provisions saying that drug and alcohol use are unacceptable. Failure to comply with its long list of rules, could lead to being barred from the village. Additionally, there will be staffing and security 24 hours a day to maintain tranquility.

The Yesler Tiny House Village is the ninth initiated in the Seattle area since January 2016, including a cluster of small houses at 22nd and Union. Members of these communities meet with a project manager to help them find their footing in their new lives. Over 300 residents of these communities have transitioned into long-term housing, including 143 in the last year, the city says.

Due to this success, the City of Seattle has pointed to this short-term sheltering as a form of bridge housing to help those in need find more affordable and stable lodging.

LIHI “will operate the village and help people obtain long-term housing and employment” while its church partners in the project New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church “provide services, clothing, blankets, donations, and meals.” Employees from Seattle’s Vulcan gathered for a day of community service to build the homes.

To get a sense of what possible opposition such a project can face in 2018 Seattle, take a look at a letter being left on doors around the neighborhood. It lists seven grievances, including a lack of “decent sanitary conditions,” little way to keep the village drug and alcohol-free, and no “realistic plan” to move these residents into more stable housing. The letter says that it has the support of “30 families residing near the planned village.”

Another major concern stated in the letter is that the community was not consulted on this quickly laid plan that is “circumventing city laws for zoning and permitting.”

Castle said that this village is moving forward as quickly as possible but only because of its unique status as a church-sponsored property, which means it is not restricted by city ordinances, unlike the many city-sanctioned village.

On Tuesday, June 12, a community meeting was held with more than 100 members of the community and a dialogue on the project was held. The room was filled with supporters of the proposal and many members of the neighborhood held signs saying “we welcome our new neighbors.”

The village will create a Community Advisory Committee that will provide input on operations, according to the City of Seattle. The Committee will include seven members of the community, including businesses and neighbors, and will meet monthly.

A FAQ on the project sums up many of the details community members might be asking about the project:

“We believe, based on our experience with villages in Ballard, West Seattle, Othello and others, that this will be a project that creates safe spaces for unsheltered people and one that the community as a whole can support,” a representative from the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department said in an email about the new village.

Want to know what it’s like to apply to live in a tiny house village? True Hope Village’s resident application is below.


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29 thoughts on “True Hope Village, a tiny piece of Seattle’s big homelessness and affordability problem, moves forward in the Central District” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. What a joke, LIHI is a disgusting organization, lying and has no shame. They started construction BEFORE first meeting ( just 2 days before the meeting was announced) and BEFORE getting the permit. I am living in the neighborhood and I know. Most of the “supporters” from the second meeting were not even from the neighborhood, they were shouting on everyone who tried to show opposition and reasonable concerns about the village, you call it democracy?

    • Yet none of those ’30 neighbors’ signed up to make comment but had someone from the north end who said our neighbors asked them to come speak for them. A handful of folks tried to start a chant, which was not picked up on. Had 30 neighbors showed up, signed up, it would have been a large portion of the room.

      Someone did read a portions of the materials objecting to the tiny house village that had been left on their door. Sorry if you felt misrepresented, but it was on you to speak for yourselves.

      I recognized most of the people from our area, and could easily identify the handful of folks from other neighborhoods, both the anti- people and some who came because they are embarrassed by their disruptive behaviors and how they ‘represent’ (not) the people of Magnolia, Queen Anne and Ballard.

  2. We live right around the block from a similar tiny village at 22nd and Union. They seem like good neighbors–I honestly forget they are even there. I hope that residents who live by the projected new site will keep an open mind.

    • I’m glad you love it so much at 22nd and Union, but 2 campsites in one mostly residential neighborhood? why not put it into Josh Castle’s back yard in North Seattle for example? Most of us in the Central District live in rent controlled housing, none of us would live in shacks like that. These people have severe mental illness, it’s a totally different problem than housing…

      • Also each camp and even each time can be different. While the current encampment at 22nd and Union has been relatively innocuous the first one absolutely increased anti-social behaviors to it’s immediate surroundings. We had a noticeable amount of trespassing (people coming into yards, even going as far as to start sleeping in the yard of an empty house) increased trash and increased public intoxication the first time that church ran their camp.

      • I have not noticed anything like that CD Neighbor mentions from the tiny house village at 22nd and Union. It’s very quiet and clean with someone at the entrance 24/7. If anything it’s been far less noticeable than the changes happening at the corners of 23rd and union. I would hope we wouldn’t completely stigmatize all of the people in need of housing in this city and would get to know our new neighbors before judging them, whether in tiny houses or new shiny apartment buildings and town houses.

      • NY – you should be sure to read carefully… were you living here the last time there was an encampment? Are you on a route that those who come and go are likely at all to use?

        I think I was relatively clear – the current incarnation has not been problematic. The first one was not as benign.

        You perhaps may argue that anytime you get new neighbors they may be good or bad, but I think people have the right to be concerned about these encampments. It’s a denial of reality to think that they are not a population that is likely to have problems that simply being sheltered does not solve.

      • @CD Neighbor.
        I do not consider tiny house villages to be encampments and do not wish to conflate the two, as you seem to suggest. I have lived in the neighborhood for 30+ years and so yes, have experienced the rotating “Nickelsville” tent cities and similar encampments. The planned tiny house village as described will be like the tiny house village on 22nd, not like the rotating Nickelsville tent cities.

      • I am using *their own words*…..

        “Monday afternoon, the Seattle City Council is set to approve the legislative underpinning to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s “bridge housing” plan creating a $9.5 million a year program for shelter and “tiny house” encampments.”

        I’m not conflating anything… They are rotating encampments and they are run by Nicklesville….. They are exactly what you are claiming they are not…

  3. Thank goodness for this. Dignified emergency shelter is a must…. And we need more permanent <30% AMI housing on top of that!

  4. Is there a group or petition to stop this? We need more subsidized housing where tenants are well screened and have no mental disorders. No one in their right mind would want to live in shacks like this. Josh Castle, that was put in charge of LIHI has no understanding of the problem at hand, and just treats this as a housing issue, while in reality it’s a mental health issue and has no place in residential area. There is already a campsite like this in the neighborhood. now you want another one here?! You lots your crazy spoiled white brains? Put in your back year, this neighborhood had enough share of these human experiments… This is a residential neighborhood next to a big park and playground.

    • @Mike: Then propose an increase in mental health services. Denying homeless people stable housing does nothing to solve the issue and in fact makes it worse.

      It appears that it is you that has no understanding of the problem at hand.

  5. I think it’s a great idea, as long as they don’t destroy them like they did to the tiny houses they built on Dearborn a few years back that were bulldozed after the encampment moved on. As far as the drug and alcohol concerns, I don’t see that as a significant barrier. We had a Nickelsville on our block and at first we were worried about some of those same concerns, but then we were proud to invite new people into our neighborhood.

    IMO I would rather have tiny homes which are actually sustainable living (I live in a 190 sf trailer) than those tall skinny things they’re dropping down all over the city.

    • You were “proud” to invite 30-50 people, many with severe mental illness and drug addictions, to share a space with you? A space that also happens to be your main financial investment? Did it bother you that you had no say in the matter and the city didn’t care whether you were proud or not? Did you go to a meeting to tell them you were proud and enjoy watching your neighbors get shouted down by a bunch of activists paid to be there?

      Where in CD do you live that there is a 190 sf trailer? Are you even from this neighborhood?

  6. These villages are a modest improvement over living in a tent somewhere. My main concern is this: Exactly what will the LIHI do to “help people obtain long-term housing and employment”? Will active participation in efforts to reach such goals be a mandatory requirement for the residents to continue to live there?

    • Bob, please educate yourself. The CHS community doesn’t exist to answer your pithy questions for free. Go find the answers to your own questions. Don’t be the guy standing out in the middle of the virtual street yelling his ignorance to the 8 people who happen to be within earshot. Be smart. Be educated. Be better than your usual self.

      You’re going to reply, Bob, demanding that I answer your questions. I won’t. I’m instead going to give you very condescending instructions about how to use a search engine.

      Go, Bob.

      • This is a really rude, passive aggressive way of dismissing someone you disagree with.

        This is a community discussion and he’s allowed to make comments without them being perfectly researched.

        If you know the answers (likely not) why not say so. You must be fun at parties.

      • Sloopy and Glen, I apologize that you had to see such unpleasantness. Bob’s what we in the discussion industry call a “troll” in the classical sense. He shows up to a discussion and asks questions that any reasonably intelligent person could DuckDuckGo for themselves. He feigns curiosity, but really he wants to make the discussion about himself. That’s why I chose to call out his counterproductive behavior rather than indulge it.

        Trolls succeed, though, because the low level of knowledge required draws all sorts of low-functioning individuals into a banal, unproductive discussion.

        At this point you’re going to call me a hypocrite because I replied to such low-quality discourse. Well said. Thank you and have a good day and stay out of my tiny house.

      • Bob is a well-respected member of the community, this blog and the complete opposite of a troll. He and anyone else are allowed to ask any questions they wish on here with Justin keeping people in check. Bob doesn’t need to be kept in check.

      • Bob’s not a troll, and his questions are entirely reasonable. In any discussion of any subject there will always be people who are up-to-the-minute with every little detail (or they think they are, anyway). If the answer to everything is “go look it up yourself”, what’s the point of a community discussion?

        Furthermore, he speaks to the point of one of the biggest failings of services to homeless people in Seattle. I.E, doing nothing much to move them out of homelessness by things like job training, etc., instead of our Shitty Council’s preferred method of simply asking for more and more money to support more and more people for what seems to be indefinite timeframes. Instead of sticking their handout to hit up Amazon et al, why aren’t they asking businesses to participate in joint initiatives to provide people actual job skills? We see very little of that.

        I’m glad you know so much about it, but you’re about the only person on here who would call Bob a troll.

      • Going to throw in my two cents, probably to have it flung back at me tenfold:

        Yes, Bob is a respected member of the CHS community, all the way back to the days when he went by Calhoun. But Bob can come off as a concern troll sometimes, which is different than a straight up troll.

        Sometimes it’s in the form of willfully ignorant questions as above, where the result is easily searchable. Other times it’s posting his opinion as a fact and refusing to relent when actual studies, evidence and other facts are presented to him (safe injection site articles come to mind).

        Whether or not he means to do it, he does it and it’s not conducive to productive discussions. An informed voice of opposition is always welcome in discussion.

      • @FairlyObvious: You are free to disagree with my opinions whenever you want, but personal attacks are not OK on this blog.

  7. Once again the good residents of the Central District picking up the slack where the intolerant and quiet racists of Magnolia and Laurelhurst have shown zero compassion or tolerance with threats of lawsuits any time they get wind of a tiny house village coming to their neighborhood and threatening the homogeneous wealthy bubble they live in. I’m proud to host true hope village in my neighborhood and give people the second chance they deserve.