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- Tiny homes are increasingly being used to shelter people in cities like Los Angeles.
- Seattle’s Block Project sets up tiny homes in peoples’ backyards to shelter the city’s unhoused residents.
- See the 128-square-foot tiny homes, which have a bed, bathroom, and kitchen.
Since the start of 2020, people across the US have dished out millions of dollars for tiny homes to use as backyard offices, vacation homes, and an opportunity to live minimally.
Several nonprofit organizations across the US have been launching “tiny home villages” that function as transitional shelters to house people without homes.
Last year alone, Los Angeles — in partnership with nonprofit Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission — opened seven multi-million-dollar villages that now successfully shelter hundreds of the city’s residents.
But Seattle nonprofit Facing Homelessness and its tiny home arm, the Block Project, is taking a slightly different approach.
Think of the Block Project as an Airbnb program, but instead of inviting strangers into your home, you’re letting strangers stay in your backyard long-term.
According to Jennifer Tee, the deputy director of Facing Homelessness, Airbnb model’s — specifically strangers staying in peoples’ homes — helped pave the way for the Block Project’s success.
“When we put the notice out for the first time, we were overwhelmed by the response of people who wanted to get involved with the Block Project,” Tee told Insider.
The nonprofit’s idea to create tiny home shelters was first conceived in 2016, well before the string of tiny home villages started appearing in Los Angeles.
“We’re expanding at the rate of community,” Tee said, noting that the nonprofit wants to have 18 tiny homes in operation by the end of this year.
“What we’re hearing from our residents is ‘we want to have a permanent space we can call home, be stable, and really settle,'” Tee said.
Homeowners who lend their backyards to the Block Project sign a renewable five-year “ground lease” to lease 500 square-feet of their yard to the nonprofit.
But if Block Project does begin requesting payment, a person’s rent will be decided on a “sliding scale” that factors in income and the duration of their stay, according to the nonprofit.
“The closer people come to learning about an issue, the closer people come to understanding a person’s experience, and the more inclined they are to understand a bit more and want to do something about it,” Tee said.