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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.

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