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Closure of Tiny House Village in Seattle Prompts Concern

Meant to serve chronically homeless people, the Licton Springs tiny house village has been controversial from the start. It's uncertain whether enough permanent housing exists to resettle all residents.
October 6, 2018, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Jon Callas

Seattle is one of several cities experimenting with tiny houses as a means to address chronic homelessness. This is the first time the city's phasing out one of its tiny house sites, which are meant to serve as transitional housing. Kate Walters writes, "The Licton Springs site opened on Aurora Avenue North in 2017 and was controversial from the get-go. Unlike most other villages and shelters in the city, alcohol and drug use are allowed at the Licton Springs site."

Nearby residents have associated the site with a noticeable increase in crime. But for those who've benefitted from the tiny houses, the future is now very uncertain. Service providers say that a lack of affordable housing makes it difficult to transfer residents into permanent dwellings. "Only 33 people were moved from tiny house villages across Seattle into permanent housing in the first six months of 2018. The number of tiny house villages has gone up this year, but the rate at which people are leaving for housing has gone down by 5 percent over the same time last year."

Meanwhile, Seattle appears to have learned something from the case. Namely, that a more hands-on approach is advisable. "City officials say lessons have been learned from the Licton Springs site, including that participation in case management and housing searches should be required."

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Published on Thursday, September 27, 2018 in KUOW
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