Seattle's first tiny-house village that does not require sobriety opens

Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Dozens of people are now moving into new homes in North Seattle. Each one has been vetted and approved for the Licton Springs Tiny House Village.

One of the first to move into his tiny house, John Roller was giddy with excitement.

“I wanted to cry,” he said, when he first found out that he was approved for the house.

This is the city's latest tiny house village, but the first considered to be a ‘low-barrier’ village, which means sobriety is not a requirement to live here.

Roller invited everyone who walked by into his new house.

It’s only 8’ by 12’ but smartly designed, with a built in bunk for a bed and storage underneath plus more storage built into a side wall.

“The fact they furnished my house. I didn't have to paint anything,, “Roller said.

There are six sanctioned villages like this one in Seattle, but all others require sobriety. This one does not.

"If people are coming off the streets and they are using alcohol, it is difficult to be clean and sober,” said Sharon Lee with the Low Income Housing Institute.

Some neighbors to this new tiny village are concerned about security and who will be living here, since there is already a homeless population in the area. They asked the institute to give priority to those living on the streets in the surrounding area when choosing who gets the houses.

The Licton Springs Village is gated, with 24/7 security and social workers to help people find treatment programs and even more permanent housing.

For now, Roller is just happy to have a roof over his head, after seven years of living on the street.

He says he's an Army veteran.

After deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army tapped him for another tour, but he said he could not go back, he said.

"I had a mental breakdown,” he said.

Now he's got a tiny house that he's sharing with his partner, in a community he already sees is filled with compassion.

The Low Income Housing Institute put together this tiny village, using hundreds of volunteers who built and painted the tiny houses. Each one costs $2,200 and is insulated. This village will have 30 houses, giving about 70 people a roof over their heads and a lock on the door to feel safe and secure. The village includes electricity, a kitchen, running water and showers. Eventually, the institute wants to build a low-income apartment building to replace the tiny houses.

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