Tacoma OKs tiny home villages to combat growing homeless crisis

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Tiny home houses in Seattle. (Matt Pitman, KIRO Radio)

Tacoma City Council voted Tuesday to allow the construction of tiny home villages to house its homeless population.

Seattle to cut off funding for controversial tiny home village

According to a report from KING5, the city will be using a Seattle-based nonprofit in the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI). LIHI operates tiny home villages in both Seattle and Olympia, and within a month, will have the same established in Tacoma.

The city will be directing $380,000 in funding toward LIHI for the operation of a community consisting of 22 tiny houses, and providing shelter for 35 people. On-site services will include portable toilets, garbage collection, handwashing stations, and drinking water.

“Once you’re in that house, you can lock that door and you can go to sleep and you can go to work you can go to school,” LIHI’s Sharon Lee told KING5.

This move came in the wake of Tacoma enacting a ban on public camping that takes effect in December. The city is also currently operating under a recently-extended “State of Public Health Emergency,” related to an escalating homeless crisis that’s seen many camping out in Tacoma’s People’s Park.

The hope with tiny home villages is to provide transitional roofs over the heads of the city’s homeless, and eventually get them into long-term permanent housing.

In Seattle, LIHI recently found itself embroiled in a feud over management of its tiny home villages for months, stemming from a recently-dissolved partnership with Nickelsville. Nickelsville clashed with LIHI over autonomy across a collection of villages, going so far as to padlock its gates in Northlake.

LIHI, Nickelsville split up over Seattle homeless camp management

Ultimately, the Seattle’s Human Services Department opted to shut down the Nortlake village entirely, citing “ongoing interference” from Nickelsville.

On Dec. 31, the property Northlake’s village sits on will be returned to Seattle City Light. HSD has stated it is “working closely with LIHI” to find other housing options for its soon-to-be-displaced residents.

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