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.

1 minute read

July 1, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 in Fast Company

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.