On March 2nd, The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), Nickelsville, and the Tulalip Tribes held a ceremony for Georgetown Tiny House Village, the fourth City of Seattle sanctioned homeless encampment. Georgetown Village provides crucially needed shelter and services to families and individuals currently living on the streets. The city-owned site at 1000 S. Myrtle Street will eventually feature 40 tiny houses, counseling offices, a kitchen tent, and a “Kingdome” and “Queendome” that will be used for emergency overflow shelter when all the tiny houses are filled.
The first three tiny houses moved on to the site were built by the Tulalip Tribes TERO pre-apprenticeship program for Native Americans, which provides training in the construction trades and helps to expose tribal members to great career opportunities that otherwise might not be available to them. “LIHI is a proud supporter of this effort to train the next generation of workers in housing construction as we work to address the housing crisis in our region,” said Melinda Nichols, VP of LIHI Board. The TERO program has built 13 tiny houses for homeless people. The photo below shows the three house doors painted by tribal artist Ty Juvenil.
Georgetown Community Council Vice Chairperson Kelly Welker welcomed the village to the neighborhood and recognized the large crowd, saying, “This many people coming out today ceremony gives me confidence that we’re going to be fine neighbors. I’m especially pleased that the Tulalip Tribes have brought art to a place in Georgetown that didn’t have any.”
TERO apprenticeship students Nick Brown and Ralph Flores gave thanks for the opportunity to learn and help the community.
Tatiyana Kensington, Nickelsville resident and external affairs coordinator at Tiny House Village in the Central Area explained “Something you’ll have difficulty understanding unless you’ve been homeless yourself, is that for us an encampment, sanctioned or not, is home to those that have few or no other options. Nickelsville is proof that self-managed communities can keep people together and safe while we work toward making Seattle a sanctuary for all its residents. Nickelsville works. Sweeps don’t!”
Sean Smith, Nickelsville resident and external affairs coordinator at Othello Village said, “The formation of organized encampments was a rational response to an irrational system.” Quoting Buckminster Fuller, he said, “It is now highly feasible to take care of everyone on earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.”
Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon, referencing the tribal art on the doors of the houses, said, “Art gives you a sense of culture and place no matter where you are. This isn’t the answer, but it’s part of the solution. When we act together there is no mountain we cannot climb.”
City Councilmember Mike O’Brien pledged “to work with you all to find new solutions to this tragic problem of homelessness until we have everyone indoors.”
The Mayor’s Director of Homelessness George Scarola continued this thought saying “We are going to work one by one to solve this crisis. These houses will house a few tonight, but over time they will help many.”
James Kahn, aide to Councilmember Kshama Sawant urged more public investment, saying “Three years ago we had no sanctioned camps, now this is the fourth. What a better use of public funds this is than sweeps. We need to make a Bertha-sized investment to end this crisis.”
LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee thanked everyone, saying “We have so far helped over 900 people not suffer on the streets and under bridges. Soon we will have 120 tiny houses thanks to many generous donors, and the students and volunteers building the houses.”
Volunteers and supporters continue to play an integral role in developing an effective response to ending homelessness. For information on volunteer opportunities, please contact Josh Castle. For information about LIHI’s tiny house villages or to schedule a tour, contact Bradford Gerber.
To donate to LIHI’s Tiny House Program, please visit Donate.
Clockwise from top left: Georgetown Village with first three houses on site; the Tulalip Tribes TERO team; Georgetown Community Council Vice Chairperson Kelly Welker (right) with members of the community; City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
L to R: Tulalip Tribes Chairman Mel Sheldon with Sharon Lee; Nickelsville Tiny House Village resident Tatiyana Kensington (right) with partner; Tulalip Tribes door artist Ty Juvinel; Nickelsville Othello Village resident Sean Smith.