Emotional move-in day at Seattle's newest tiny home encampment

By: Joanna Small

Updated:

SEATTLE - Three families are now the proud occupants of tiny houses in Seattle’s newest city-sanctioned homeless encampment. 

Othello Village officially opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday in southeast Seattle.

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The Low Income Housing Institute owns the land but people build and donate the houses, and move-in day for many of them was just as exciting as it was for the people who actually moved in.

They build for a living, but Lawrence Willis and his students at the Seattle Vocational Institute say this basic 8 foot by 12 foot structure is probably their best work; that’s because the tiny house now painted Seahawks green and blue is for someone who has nothing.

There are eight tiny houses in Othello Village where there will eventually be 16 and 22 tents.  Three families moved in Tuesday -- one of them -- in the house Lawrence and his students constructed.

Othello Village is the third city of Seattle sanctioned homeless camp. Two others in Ballard and the Central area opened last fall and in January.

“It’s awesome, you just can’t imagine the impact you make on peoples’ lives when they have a roof over their head,” Lawrence explained.

Since the first of the city’s three sanctioned encampments opened in the fall, each amidst concerns from their respective neighborhoods, 36 people have transitioned out of tiny houses into real houses.

“This is not a (place where) you (live) forever -- but a crisis response, a survival mechanism, a crisis response to homelessness,” Sharon Lee with LIHI told us. 

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

That’s what the agency wants the critics to understand.

But for the single mom and two kids who move in here, Lawrence just wants his house to feel like their home -- for as long as they need it.  He waited until they arrived to tell them that himself.

“I just bless you and want you to know it’s warm,” he told the family, shaking their hands as they stepped into the house for the first time.

There is a dining and shower facility on the property, and Tuesday we learned two large shipping containers have been donated and will be delivered to serve as housing for multiple people as well.

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