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  • Nathan Ellis-Brown

Othello Village Tent City Opens

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2016 Low Income Housing Institute

Seattle, WA – Othello Village, the third City of Seattle sanctioned tent encampment, will open March 8th at 7544 Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, in the Othello neighborhood of Southeast Seattle. The property owner Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) in partnership with Nickelsville will host the tiny house and tent community.

The village has 8 colorful tiny houses painted by volunteers in a variety of Caribbean colors. Each house is 8’ x 12’, insulated against the cold weather, and will provide temporary shelter for homeless families with children, couples and singles. Hundreds of volunteers from the community have worked tirelessly with LIHI and Nickelsville for the past three weekends to get Othello Village ready for occupancy. On March 8th three homeless families with infants and children will be moving into tiny houses. The children range in age from 4 months to six years old. Single adults and couples will also be moving into the houses and tents.

Fundraising is underway to build more tiny houses and the site will eventually have 16 houses. Othello Village will also have 22 tents on platforms, a kitchen/dining tent, food pantry, community tent, donations tent, counseling space, portable toilets and hand washing stations. A small commercial building on-site will provide restrooms and shower facilities. Click to Donate

The village will provide safe housing for individuals and families currently experiencing homelessness. While the City of Seattle permit allows for up to 100 program participants, the village more likely house around 60 to 80 people. The village will be managed by Nickelsville, a self managed community, in partnership with LIHI. LIHI will provide social workers to move the program participants into housing, help with employment, and access to healthcare, education and other services. Othello Village continues LIHI and Nickelsville’s innovative crisis response to homelessness by moving people into tiny houses instead of tents when possible. In November, 2015, LIHI and Nickelsville opened the Ballard Encampment, featuring 5 tiny houses plus tents, on city-owned land at 2826 NW Market Street, and in January, 2016, LIHI, Nickelsville, and the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd open the Tiny House Village with 14 houses on the church’s land at 1419 22nd Ave. in the Central Area.

LIHI Board President Melinda Nichols said: “The wonderful partnerships with pre-apprenticeship programs, volunteers, and donors that we formed in building the Ballard and Central Area tiny houses are really starting to pay off. The quick mobilization to build out Othello Village was amazing. Othello Village will help transition even more people into stable housing while living in community with others.” The organizations and pre-apprenticeship programs that are donating their time and energy to build the 16 tiny houses are Seattle Vocational Institute, Rebuilding Together Seattle, Tulalip Tribes, Hazel Wolf K-8, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, YouthBuild, Renton Technical College, Wood Technology Center, Sawhorse Revolution, Walsh Construction Co. and others. Many organizations and individuals are donating money to purchase wood and building materials for the houses. Hazel Wolf K-8 students stand out in particular. They have purchased a tiny house and will be painting and furnishing it. Other school children designed the welcome banner shown in the attached photo.

LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee said: “Contrary to the claims made by City’s homeless consultant Barbara Poppe, there is evidence and data showing that safe and secure encampments help people to survive and improve their lives. Since October, LIHI has moved 36 encampment program participants into transitional or permanent housing and helped 22 people get jobs. Unfortunately Ms. Poppe did not visit any of the encampments before leaving town. If Ms. Poppe had taken the time to visit, the program participants will tell her themselves that the quality of encampment life is high compared with living unsheltered and vulnerable on the streets. Thank you Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council for supporting tent encampments. You help save lives!” Information from the King County medical examiner documented that 91 homeless men and women died living on the streets from violence and exposure in 2015 and 9 people have already died this year. Most recently, Alicia Nickerson, age 30, was found dead on February 23.

Othello Village will be have 24-hour security on the site. Everyone has chores to do and must follow a code of conduct. Nickelsville will take charge of referrals for those moving into the village. Kitty DeBerry, a current Nickelsville program participant, believes that the tiny houses are a good alternative for people experiencing homelessness. “Housing, four solid walls and a door that can close out the world, this is an essential need for a person’s sense of safety, security and stability. The recent movement seen here in Washington, and throughout the nation, of supplying homeless populations with small housing units has shined a large ray of hope upon a population that can use all the hope it can find.”

Donations of blankets, flashlights, batteries, and canned goods are welcomed. Homeless individuals and families can come to Othello Village for intake on March 9th, Wednesday at 3pm or call (206) 450-9136.

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