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Disaster Shelters Housing the Homeless in Washington

Structures initially intended to temporarily house disaster victims are serving a new purpose in Tacoma, Washington—sheltering homeless people and getting them on the path to more permanent housing.
July 1, 2019, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Tacoma, Washington, wanted to provide temporary shelter to homeless people that would be step up from the tent housing the city had offered as part of an effort to address the area’s homelessness crisis. The city started using tiny houses that originally were designed as emergency shelter for disaster victims, reports Hallie Golden:

Created by Pallet, based in nearby Everett, Washington, the small, white rectangular structures are covered from floor to ceiling with a fiberglass material and aluminum framing, and—depending on whether you pick the 64- or 100-square-foot model—can be set up with little to no tools in under an hour. They come with a fold-up bed, windows, a ventilation system, and a front door that locks. In other words, they are an "Ikea approach to shelter," says Amy King, the company’s owner and founder.

The shelters are now used as part of the process in transitioning people off the streets and eventually into more long-term housing. Other cities struggling with similar homelessness crises have expressed interest in using the Pallet structures because they are less expensive and easier and faster to erect than permanent structures.

"[Seattle Council’s Teresa Mosqueda] said she would like to see funding in this year’s budget go to these structures, as long as it’s coupled with supportive services, such as case managers, and funding for more long-term housing," notes Golden.

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Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 in Fast Company
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