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Part of Seattle’s push to house more people in response to COVID-19, a new Tiny House Village is coming to the Central District

An effort “to increase shelter capacity for Seattle’s vulnerable unsheltered populations living in unsafe encampments” will add 30 homes in another Tiny House Village in the Central District:

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is building a new tiny house village at Cherry and 22nd in the Central Area on land owned by the Christ Spirit Church (formerly Cherry Hill Baptist). This site will include 26 tiny houses, a security pavilion, a community kitchen, staff and counseling offices, and bathrooms. Development of the village will begin on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 612 22nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122. The village, along with staff and supportive services, will be ready for occupancy by the end of March. There will be 24/7 staffing and case management available on-site to help connect residents to housing and services. This village is supported by members of the church. The village is receiving operational support from the City of Seattle – in support of citywide efforts to create additional spaces for people living unsheltered during the COVID-19 crisis. Volunteers support in the construction of tiny houses.

The new Cherry village will be run by the Low Income Housing Institute nonprofit that operates the city’s Tiny House Villages. The effort is part of emergency measures from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan as the region deals with the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement on the new investments, LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee thanked the mayor for “providing resources quickly to stand up Cherry Hill Village.”

“There are too many unsheltered homeless men and women who are vulnerable and sleeping outside in the cold,” Lee said. “Many of them already have compromised health and weakened immunity.”

The new village in the Central District joins True Hope Village at 18th and Yesler and the Union Tiny House Village at 22nd and Union. The 22nd and Union location is in search of a new home after its sponsoring church said it was “exploring new and possibly better ways to utilize our property.” An original January deadline has been extended into the spring to give the facility time to find a new property to call home.

To help house more people during the city’s COVID-19 emergency, Cherry Hill Village’s 30 units will be joined by a new Lake Union Tiny House Village and the transition of the former Evergreen Treatment Facility in the Bitter Lake neighborhood intou housing with capacity for up to 50 people.

The city says the new facilities are not currently planned as possible quarantine sites. “At this time, the City is not expecting any of these sites to be quarantine or isolation sites,” an announcement of the new housing reads. “HSD will follow direction from Public Health Seattle King County  to determine medical needs and agency support required to safely and effectively operate these new resources in relation to COVID-19. All locations will be accompanied with ongoing services, staffing, and support.”

King County has announced several locations to serve as quarantine, isolation, and recovery sites “for people who are not able to use their homes for this purpose.”

The mayor’s office says it is is partnering with King County on “standing up these shelters.”

These include people traveling, people who cannot be at home, and those who are homeless. Sites are located in White Center, Kent, Interbay, and North Seattle. This will create capacity for approximately 213 individuals. At this time, no COVID-19 patients are currently occupying any of the sites. King County is continuing to seek additional sites across the region. The City will seek funding from the State of Washington and federal emergency sources to stand up and operate these shelters. The City is committed to bringing these important shelter resources online and operating these programs throughout the COVID-19 response and potentially beyond to meet the needs of vulnerable people living outdoors. Note, the City can stand up 500 additional emergency shelter spaces in 24 to 48 hours, as seen with recent winter storm responses. The City will evaluate this option in consultation with PHSCK as the situation evolves. The City is continuing to explore avenues for opening additional shelters in the weeks ahead and is working with other government agencies to identify resources and locations.

“Any new shelter expansion would require funding support from state and federal sources,” the city adds.

Last fall, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant made the villages part of her push for more funding for housing and homelessness during the 2020 budgeting process. Here proposal forged 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 are still subject to safety and public health provisions.

Each tiny village house costs roughly $2,200 in materials and is wired for electricity. A bathroom pavilion, a kitchen tent, and showers are also typically part of the village plans. The communities are self managed and residents hold meetings to work on the management of the camps.

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