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Updated: January 19, 2016

Tiny house village for the homeless set to open this week

By Graham Johnson

KIRO - Seattle


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On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, volunteers put the finishing touches on small homes in Seattle's Central District which will soon house some of the city's homeless population. The homes have the kind of basic amenities you don't see in homeless camps.

"The difference is you have electricity and a lock on the door," said Steve Tucker, a member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd. The church is hosting what organizers have called Seattle's first tiny house village.

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The 14 homes are insulated. They'll have oil heat registers for winter and fans for summer. Some even have extra touches, like storage and sleeping platforms.

Most importantly, there's a central building with toilets, running hot and cold water and soon, a shower.

"You have two toilets, which is a big difference from Nickelsville," Tucker said, referring to the organized homeless camp. "They have port-a-potties."

The tiny house village is going up on church property in a lot that used to have a single family home on it. The village taps in to the old utility services.

Previously, organizers said they believed the tiny houses would provide an attractive alternative to tent cities.

"I think the kind of setup they have going here is going to lead a few people to getting back on their feet, a motivational thing," said Chuck Warden, a homeless man who provides security for the tiny house village and plans to move in once construction is completed.

The pilot project is supported by Seattle's Low Income Housing Iniative.

"We think it's a good crisis response to homelessness," said Sharon Lee, of the Low Income Housing Institute.

Lee expects most people to stay in the village between four to six months as they transition from Nickelsville to affordable housing.

Each adult will pay $90 per month to cover utilities for the tiny house village.

"I think this is a unique model and we want to continue this model," Lee said.

Donors paid for the homes, which cost about $2,200 each. Volunteers from several groups built the village.

People are expected to move in later in the week.

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