written by Tom Hayes
Carriage Houses NW Homeless Housing Division
A solution to homelessness in Seattle moves forward against the odds. The city is trying to solve the crisis by allowing the construction of Tiny House Villages and a new one at Georgetown is fully underway supplying 37 living units. These secure bedrooms (usually 8’ x 12’) are designed to minimize restrictions due to building codes. The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is doing remarkable work coordinating the efforts between the city, building groups, social agencies, and the homeless.
Carriage Houses NW sent a team of 6 builders to the Georgetown site at 1000 South Myrtle to set-up and partially build 4 tiny house shelters.
- conversation with residents “John” and “Jane” – optimistic to have a new start after the Tiny House Village and shared success stories of 2 former residents
- conversation with Brad at LIHI – knows everything from the nuts and bolts of building, to the needs of the homeless in transition, to forging neighborhood alliances, to having patience with city bureaucracy, and working with all the stakeholders in the Tiny House Village venture
- conversation with local company security guard – fear and concern, hoping that “villagers” are good neighbors
- conversations with builders – neighbors with a heart and the skill to build cooperated to complete 4 floors, 2 with walls, and 1 with a roof sharing camaraderie through work
In the pouring rain, over 20 volunteers, who have collectively raised over $10,000 came to work with the 8 experts to get as far as possible on the living units. Those of us connected with Carriage Houses NW first gathered to go over teams and goals for the day. LIHI then gathered the nearly 100 morning volunteers at the Georgetown site to kick off a day of work, fun, and neighbor helping neighbor. Another crew followed in the afternoon as the sun broke through!
Teams worked on each of the 4 houses. Moving different sizes and shapes of lumber, building supplies, and housing materials to installing walls, ceilings, windows, doors, roofs, and insulation were all parts of the beehive of activity. The tiny houses are now ready for finish work on the inside and outside.
- conversation with a high schooler – interested in doing more service like this or helping with fundraisers
- conservations between volunteers and builders– solving construction problems and enjoying the feeling of contribution
- conversation with volunteer from another group – it’s like the Amish raising of a barn in the 21st century and an urban setting
- comments from volunteers – “This was fun!”, “I’m ready to do this again”, “Thanks for the opportunity!”