Tiny Homes Solutions
Soon after JHY was founded, the Board of Directors began a series of community conversations that included city and county officials, social service and healthcare providers, architects, realtors, business people, and others in the community who are interested in finding permanent solutions to the problem of homelessness.
In these early conversations and research, we saw a particular need in Yakima to develop affordable housing that would meet some essential criteria:
- To meet the needs of Yakima’s “chronically homeless” population, which are people with some type of disabling condition (physical or mental health problems, addiction, etc.) and have been homeless for over a year or have had multiple episodes of homelessness over the previous three years.
- To provide a “housing first” model, in which people’s housing and other survival needs are met first, and once they are established in safe housing they can work on healthcare, recovery, job training, or other skills they need to stabilize their lives.
- To aim for solutions that are permanent, supportive housing, where people can stay as long as they need to with the support that is needed to help them become independent and housing stable, and to do so on their own timeline.
When we looked around the region and the country for models of affordable, supportive housing that meet these criteria, we discovered some of the most successful models were “tiny house” villages, such as those operated by Square One Villages in Eugene, OR and Quixote Village in Olympia, WA. The concept that these villages model is a semi- self-directed community, where residents are able to live in their own homes with their own four walls, but are also supported by and held accountable to their peers in the village.
After learning about these models more, and discussing these needs with a variety of social service partners in and around Yakima, we focused our mission on building a similar tiny house village in Yakima. We see this as an essential “piece of the puzzle” for addressing homelessness in Yakima – in addition to shelters, transitional housing, and housing vouchers in private developments, this will be a path to independent living for those who need to live within the structure of community but also a sense of independence that comes with living in a home.
In late 2018, we found suitable land for one such village and began the project of developing Cottage Hill Village on vacant land near Milroy Park and the intersection of Lincoln Ave. and 16th Ave in Yakima.
Why will this work?
- Tiny house villages provide both a sense of independence and dignity that comes with living in a free-standing home, and the support and responsibility from the community.
- Residents are invested in their homes and the community – they pay rent based on an ability to pay formula, and participate in the governance of the community.
- JHY has consulted with and is getting support from organizations that have successfully created similar affordable housing models
- JHY is partnering with service providers to help address the issues that
prevented residents from sustaining housing
- JHY Board Members openly invite and encourage community input and involvement