Tuesday, Seattle City Council made history and voted to amend the original permitted encampment ordinance that allows for three city-sanctioned encampments, imposes various time regulations and zoning restrictions, and was set to sunset next month. The amended ordinance passed with a 6-1 vote just in time! Voting yes were Councilmembers Kshama Sawant (bill sponsor), Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez, Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales, and Dan Strauss. Councilmembers Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda weren’t present, and Councilmember Alex Pedersen voted no.
The new ordinance will allow the continuation of the existing tiny house villages that would have otherwise sunset in March, and permit up to 40 tiny house villages, encampments, and safe parking sites to be authorized throughout the city. The language also mitigates zoning restrictions, allows annual renewals, and removes a sunset provision.
This is a zoning ordinance, not a funding bill, so the expansion of new sites will be gradual and dependent on the allocation of city funding. There is $2 million in the 2020 budget for new village funding.
Thank you to the many residents, volunteers, staff, faith leaders, and community members who emailed, called, and joined us at City Hall in support of villages over the past few months. Many heartfelt stories were shared that played an instrumental role in educating councilmembers about the importance of tiny house villages. We owe this monumental win to you.
Tiny house villages serve as a crucial stepping stone from homelessness to permanent or long-term housing. According to the 2019 Point in Time Count, 5,228 individuals were identified as unsheltered in King County, 68% of which were residing in Seattle. The eight city-funded tiny house villages provide shelter, safety, and community to 700 people in 2019, and have high rates of exits to long-term housing compared with other forms of shelter. Case managers work hard to help residents obtain housing, employment, education, health care, treatment, child care, and other services.
We are grateful to the City Councilmembers who supported this legislation, especially Councilmember Sawant who sponsored it and led the fight and Councilmember Lewis who chaired the Select Committee on Homelessness. Please reach out and thank them at firstname.lastname@example.org!