Othello Village Gets Heat!

“This is the first time I’ve had a door and heat in six years.”


Tiny House Village Gets Heat Thanks to Donations

Seattle, WA – Nickelsville Othello Village, a city-sanctioned tiny house village serving homeless families and individuals received a significant quality of life upgrade as heat and electricity have been installed in all the tiny houses. Heat, light and electrical outlets were made possible due to generous donations from individuals, foundations and organizations.

Currently 61 people live in Othello Village, including 50 adults and 11 children.

The residents are ecstatic given the cold weather these past few weeks. “This is the first time I’ve had a door and heat in six years. Thanks so much. It is so life altering. We are so blessed,” said Mitze, who had tears in her eyes. “This is the end of a long hard winter. Thanks for your donations,” said Sean.

Othello Village is the third city-sanctioned encampment and was opened by LIHI and Nickelsville in March of 2016 as a crisis response to homelessness. Many people are not able to access traditional shelters, including couples, men with children, families with teenage sons, people with pets, and individuals who are working and need a place to keep their belongings safe. Over 3,000 men, women and children are on the streets unsheltered according to the January 2016 One Night Count.

LIHI executive director Sharon Lee said: “We had a bare bones budget when we opened Othello Village last year. At that time we did not have money to install electricity and heat in the tiny houses. We are most grateful to the many donors who made this possible. A little heat goes a long ways when your house is 8 feet by 12 feet, the size of a small bedroom.” A small family can fit in a tiny house and a large family can fit in two tiny houses side by side.

LIHI Boardmember Melinda Nichols said, “We’ve been learning a lot. Just insulating the houses was not enough. Heat is necessary both for the residents and for keeping the tiny houses dry and free from moisture damage.” The International District Rotary is helping LIHI raise money for the portable hot oil electric heaters, which cost $61 each.

Located near Othello Light Rail Station at 7544 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., the village contains 28 insulated tiny houses that are 8 feet by 12 feet and 12 tents on platforms. The village has a kitchen, a community tent, a shower trailer, a donation hut and a security booth. The village provides shelter for vulnerable families and individuals experiencing homelessness. The property is owned by LIHI and Nickelsville residents participate in self-help and democratic decision-making in the day to day operations. The Seattle Human Services Department provides funding for operations and case management services to help people obtain housing and jobs.

In the nine months the village was in operation in 2016, LIHI moved 68 Othello Village residents into housing and 13 into other shelter. 14 have been reunited with family and friends. 19 have found employment.

Most of the tiny houses were built by volunteers. The organizations and pre-apprenticeship programs that donated their resources and energy to build the tiny houses are: the Tulalip Tribes TERO Training Program, YouthBuild, Hazel Wolfe K-8 School, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Rebuilding Together, Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women (ANEW), Renton Technical College, Paul G. Allen Foundation, Seattle Vocational Institute, Sawhorse Revolution, Valley Cities, Carpenters Apprenticeship, Portable Storage NW, and Walsh Construction. Hundreds of community volunteers also painted, tiled and furnished the tiny houses.

LIHI, in partnership with Nickelsville and SHARE, hopes to duplicate the success of Othello Village at our future tiny house villages, including two upcoming city-sanctioned sites opening in Georgetown and Licton Springs.

Volunteers, donors and supporters continue to play an integral role in developing an effective crisis response to ending homelessness. For information on volunteer opportunities, please visit Get Involved.  To donate, please visit Donate.

6 comments on “Othello Village Gets Heat!”

  1. i want to donate but have a few questions.
    who does the maintenance on a tiny house? are they plumbed or in what manner do residents have access to private bathing facilities? is there a way I can be certain that my donation actually funded the construction of a house?

    1. Hi Frank,

      Maintenance is done either by camp residents or, if there is something they can’t handle, by LIHI maintenance staff. Bathroom and bathing facilities vary by camp. The houses themselves are not plumbed. At one camp there is a plumbed bath and shower pavilion. At another there is bath and shower trailer. Camps also have honeybuckets. The City of Seattle partly funds the camps (case management, utilities, trash pick up), but does not fund the materials for building the tiny houses, so donations designated to the tiny house program are used for those materials. For information on donating, please visit: http://lihi.org/donate/

  2. How do u go about getting housed in this place? We are a family of 5 2 adults mom step dad 15 almost 16 yo daughter and 2 very small dogs, need housing desperately,

  3. I have been reading a lot of the info you, LIHI, have on the internet. A number of us from the Renton First United Methodist church are interested in participating. Our present vision is for a start, to build one here in Renton in a garage we have available and deliver it to which ever location you direct. It would be 100 sq. ft +/- and may be a design you already have or similar. As a retired design engineer, I am intrigued with designing a tiny house so that there is zero scrap left over after it is built. I’m flexible, and looking at the variety of houses you have already produced, it appears you are not locked in on a cookie cutter design. We would pay for all the materials. Is Seattle requiring you to meet any of the standard building code requirements?

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