From tiny house village to apartment, homeless mother, toddler get new beginning

SEATTLE — It's a Seattle success story in the homeless community.

Area organizations are inundated with homeless people requesting housing. The need is simply too big.

KIRO 7 News is following one Seattle woman’s journey to a new life for her and for her little boy.

When 2-year-old Jonathan Powell saw his new home on the third floor of an apartment building in Seattle’s University District, his mom says he wouldn’t stop jumping on the bed. He was thrilled.

Ashleigh Hunter-Florida and her son have been living at the Othello Tiny House Village in South Seattle since March.

Before that, they had been staying in area shelters or with her acquaintances.

"It's a blessing. It's going to help us like be in a better situation," said Hunter-Florida.

She’s struggled with homelessness for years.

"Before I found this place, I was scared  I didn't know where I was going to go," she said.

Hunter-Florida showed KIRO 7 her one-bedroom house in the encampment.

She painted a tree with sparrows on the door and stars and clouds on the ceiling.

"If I see the sky it's kinda like maybe I'm outside I didn't want to feel like claustrophobic in such a small space," she said with a smile.

She just toured the newly opened studio apartments at The Marion West in the U-District.

"It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “It has some pots and pans in there already and some towels. It's pretty nice."

The Low Income Housing Institute owns and runs the 49-unit building that will house homeless youth and low wage workers approved by LIHI.

Executive Director Sharon Lee says the all of the units filled up fast based on a system targeting some of the most vulnerable people in Seattle.

“There is a list of singles, single men and women, who are the most vulnerable and who have been on the street for the longest so they are being prioritized for housing,” she said. "The main problem is that there's not enough low rent housing. So you can have people on a waiting list and they're waiting for months if not years."

For Hunter-Florida being selected to move into one of the units with her son will provide her a new beginning with many possibilities.

"Maybe I'll wind up attending the university someday since I'm living in the University District, I don't know," she said.

LIHI will be opening a new apartment building on South Jackson near Washington Middle School in the fall.

It will have 68 units for low-income families and singles.