Suquamish Tribe launching ‘tiny house’ homeless community

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SUQUAMISH – The first tiny house homeless community in Kitsap County will be in Suquamish.

The Suquamish Tribe is launching a trial project that will house homeless members of the tribal community in six tiny shelters tucked away off Suquamish Way. The community will have residents within the next couple months, according to the tribe.

The shelters will serve as temporary housing and those placed in them will be linked with social services based out of the tribe’s offices, which sit just across the street from the shelters, tribe spokeswoman April Leigh said. Each of the shelters has electricity and heat and is located near a public bathroom facility with showers.

“It’s a holistic approach to providing temporary housing for people who would not otherwise have it,” Leigh said.

The tiny shelter community will run as a test project, complementary to the tribe’s other efforts to provide low-income housing, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman said. Tribal officials will monitor how effective it is and adjust the program as needed, he said.

“We felt there was an underserved population that this was appropriate for,” he said. “We wanted to have something that was easier to deliver in a timely manner and would address some of the more emergency situations as well. It gives us more flexibility in providing temporary housing.”

The shelters won’t be permanent homes, the tribe emphasized. The community will be a way to help homeless tribal members to stabilize and move forward, Forsman said.

“It’s a bridge to something else,” he said.

Suquamish will be home to the first tiny house community for the homeless in Kitsap County. The concept has been discussed extensively in South Kitsap, which county officials have said will be home to the first of a few similar communities throughout the county. The concept would see groups of small cottages clustered around a central kitchen and bathroom facility.

Several of the homes have already been built for the South Kitsap project, but county officials have yet to announce a location for the community. In July the idea met some resistance when some neighbors of a potential location on Taylor Street in Port Orchard pushed back against the site, with concerns about safety and property values.

Tribal officials began to monitor the discussions surrounding the county’s plans for the homeless communities about a year ago, Forsman said, as they recognized “that we had a homelessness problem on the reservation.”

“We’re looking for some ways of being innovative in addressing our housing needs,” he said.

Source: http://www.kitsapsun.com

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