A Kshama Sawant led Seattle City Council committee will hold a public hearing Thursday night on the District 3 representative’s legislation to expand funding for Tiny House Villages and block relocation of existing villages.
The proposal would move $12 million to expand the villages at 20 locations across the city and scuttle plans to remove two existing villages in Georgetown and Northlake. But the legislation faced opposition over possible State Environmental Policy Act appeals before it was even introduced. The Hearing Examiner case to unwind the legal issues is still underway with a hearing scheduled for December — well after the upcoming General Election.
Sawant’s proposal would forge a path for the village expansion by exempting religious organizations from permitting requirements for encampments on property owned or controlled by them.
The tiny villages on church properties would still be subject to a set of safety and public health provisions.
There are currently nine encampments operating in the city which receive City of Seattle funds for operation, officials say. “While operating costs vary depending on the services provided by the operator, the average expenditure by the City per encampment is approximately $390,000,” a council analysis reads. “Of the approved appropriations in the 2019 Adopted Budget, approximately $4.8 million is allocated for transitional encampments.”
The plan also calls for allocating money in the 2020 city budget to the program:
This budget action allocates $10,800,000 GSF to HSD, and repurposes $1,200,000 proposed in the Mayor’s budget to be spent relocating the Georgetown and Northlake Tiny House Villages, for a total of $12,000,000 to be used to expand the number of City-funded authorized Tiny House Villages by establishing 20 additional villages across the city in 2020. The Low Income Housing Institute has estimated that for $600,000 per tiny house village, it has the capacity to open, operate, and provide services in 10 additional villages in 2020. Other organizations in Seattle such as Nickelsville, SHARE, WHEEL, and faith organizations have the capacity to open and operate the remaining 10 additional villages.
Tuesday, Sawant unveiled the plan along with faith community representatives including Rev. Robert L. Jeffrey, Sr. of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Angela Ying, Bethany of United Church of Christ at a rally and press conference held at the Central District’s True Hope tiny house village at 1714 E Yesler.
Thursday night’s hearing begins at 5 PM in council chambers, 600 4th Ave.