SEATTLE – Supporters of a small, newly built family village celebrated its inauguration after it sat vacant for weeks due to lack of operational funding to get started.
Southend Village will serve residents of the Rainier Beach and South Seattle area.
“It’s a lifesaver, you know,” Tracy Williams said. “It saved my life.”
Williams was homeless in 2020, and when she was offered the chance to live in a small hometown – similar to the new Southend Tiny House Village – it changed her life.
“When I moved in, I was really hopeless,” Williams said.
She said the stability of the village and the case managers working there helped turn things around for her in six months.
“I got the ball rolling, turned in all my paperwork needed to secure permanent housing,” Williams said. “You’re safe in there. There are heaters and fans, so you’re warm.”
“They’re fully insulated. They have heating, electricity, a lockable door. People can secure their belongings, which is a big deal,” said Josh Castle, director of advocacy and community engagement at Low. Income Housing Institute (LIHI).
Castle showed FOX 13 News one of 40 units newly ready for a resident.
“The village is fully funded, and we’re thrilled to share that,” Castle said.
LIHI executive director Sharon Lee said a last-minute grant of $250,000 from the Lucky Seven Foundation was awarded to fund the operations. The King County Regional Homelessness Authority has also agreed to pay an additional $500,000 in operating costs for this year.
“At the Southend Tiny Home Village which has been questioned, we have identified COVID relief dollars which can be used to bridge the gap,” said the organization’s CEO, Marc Dones.
Dones explained where the funding came from during a meeting earlier in the week.
“We have identified a funding source, contacted [Lee] in terms of our ability to move forward with one-time funding,” Dones said. “The broader operational future of this village will need to be secured through continued operations and service support, which during our budget conversations with King County and the City of Seattle, we hope to identify. »
Lee had expressed concern last week that the Homelessness Authority was not funding the Tiny House Village because leaders may have a preference for other housing options.
“When they got to town, they decided they didn’t like small houses and they were negative about small houses, so we were very concerned,” Lee said.
This is something Dones has previously denied.
“As a reminder, this was ranked fourth in our bidding process and did not include the information that the village was already built,” Dones said during a meeting this week.
Despite the delay, funding for operations is now in place.
“It’s an opportunity to get people out of the rain, out of the cold,” Lee said.
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Tracy Williams now works for LIHI as a Village Coordinator at a different location. She believes the new Southend Village will help others on their way to a new life.
“I’m thrilled for everyone who has the opportunity to come here, and we’re going to keep building to get more and more off the streets,” Williams said. “I have been in their place.”
Lee said people can start moving into the village of Southend from Tuesday.