Licton Springs action report released

Seattle's eighth tiny house village is opening for business in Whittier Heights. It comes as KIRO 7 finally gets answers on what's being done to make a troubled tiny house village already at Licton Springs safer.

This is the first of three additional tiny house villages Mayor Jenny Durkan has promised to address the city's homeless crisis.

KIRO 7 investigations have shown that crime has risen in the Licton Springs neighborhood, and at least one of the so-called ''villagers'' has been attacked, too.

Only one of the non-profit agencies overseeing Licton Springs is now running the tiny house village there, too.

Sharon Lee, the founder and executive director of the Low Income Housing Institute, showed off the latest tiny village community, this one only for women who have been living on the streets.

LIHI, as she calls her agency, oversees all eight tiny house villages spread across Seattle.

"Georgetown, Othello neighborhood," she said, naming five of the village locations. "West Seattle, Northlake, Licton Springs."

Indeed, the village in Licton Springs has been an unwelcome addition to that North Seattle neighborhood.  Neighbors' complaints about an uptick in crime was borne out by stats we got from Seattle police in late spring.  In one year, crime in Licton Springs is up more than 100 percent.  Year-to-date, crime was up 80 percent. This, as crime overall in the North Precinct dropped 7percent.

Those living in the village have experienced crime, too. In April, a registered sex offender broke in and assaulted his girlfriend. He was sentenced to sixty days in jail.

"That's one of the reasons we set up a village for women only," said Lee. "This will be safe. Because we're going to have full-time staff,  24 hours-a-day here.

In the Licton Springs Action report, Lee and her staff cited several challenges: its location on Aurora Avenue, long a haven for drugs, prostitution and rough sleeping; not enough resources nor funding from the city of Seattle. Moreover, the villagers are sometimes blamed for actions of those who happen to be camping nearby.

Still, Lee says, "We think that it can be improved. We can definitely improve how things are happening at Licton Springs and we are."

Those improvements include installing more security lights, security cameras and tightening its partnership with SHARE Wheel so that there is a record of who goes in and out.

"We're on an improvement plan to make changes and to be a better neighbor," said Lee.

Those who live outside this tiny house village here in this Whittier Heights will surely be watching to see they live up to that promise.

Lee pointed to another published report that shows crime is down near the tiny house village in Othello -- and down a lot, some 30 percent.

The first residents are moving into the Whittier Heights tiny house village Wednesday.