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City Council Adopts Councilmember Sawant’s Legislation To Expand Tiny House Villages for Homeless Neighbors

Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s (District 3, Central Seattle) bill to
expand the number of tiny house villages in Seattle, allowing more of the
city’s homeless population to be sheltered and have access to services, passed
by a 6-1 vote during today’s Seattle City Council meeting.

“Today’s legislation is an incredible step forward for Seattle’s
housing justice movement, thanks to LIHI, the Nicklesville community,
socialists, faith leaders, and union members,” Sawant said. “We need to build
on today’s victory to win an Amazon Tax on Seattle’s largest corporations, to
fund a major expansion of green-built, union-built affordable social housing.
That’s why last week, I unveiled our movement’s Tax Amazon legislation, which
will tax the biggest 3 percent of businesses in Seattle and raise $300 million
per year,” Sawant said.

“This is a historic vote,” said Sharon Lee, executive director of
the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). “Tiny House villages are a proven way
to help save lives. Over 3 years, nearly 500 people in Tiny House villages have moved into
permanent housing
. Thanks to Councilmember
Sawant for leading in the fight for Tiny House villages. She’s fought hard,
along with the movement.”

Council Bill 119656 allows up to 40 tiny
house villages in the City, either on City-owned property or property owned or
controlled by a religious organization. Currently, there are nine authorized
encampments operating in Seattle that receive City funding to operate. 

Sawant proposed the expansion of tiny house villages after several
religious organizations expressed the desire to host authorized homeless
encampments, which serves a faith-based mission for many organizations. 

More than 40 faith leaders across Seattle expressed in a letter to Council their
support of the legislation, stating “in tiny house villages, residents are able
to overcome the isolation, trauma, and disempowerment of living on the
streets.”

Tiny houses have heat, light, insulation, locked doors, and access
to bathrooms, showers, a communal kitchen and case workers. The City’s data
shows tiny house villages are more successful at transitioning people out of
homelessness and into permanent housing, compared to other types of shelter
such as “mats on the ground” overnight shelters.

Several amendments were passed, including amendments that ensure
authorized encampments and tiny house villages are spread across all seven
districts in the city, and encampment operators who receive City funding
provide case management and security in accordance with an approved encampment
management plan.