10.25.23 Newsletter – Tiny Home Villages Less Expensive Than Sweeps

Tiny Home Villages Less Expensive Than Sweeps

weekly newsletter of Sound Foundations NW, a non-profit builder of tiny homes for the homeless in seattle

www.SoundFoundationsNW.org            /           SoundFoundationsNW@gmail.com

table showing costs of reaching functional zero homelessness using tiny houses for the homeless


By Barb Oliver

On September 11, 2023, a group assembled at The Hope Factory consisting of members of Executive Constantine’s office, Mayor Harrell’s office, Seattle City Council, one board member of KCRHA, the Low Income Housing Institute, and me as your representative from Sound Foundations NW. We came together to tour our facility and to brainstorm ways we can end homelessness. From that meeting came a plan called “Getting to Functional Zero” which I presented at last Wednesday’s Seattle City Council Budget Committee meeting. 

At that Budget Committee meeting, we showed in black and white how we can get to Functional Zero ( https://community.solutions/built-for-zero/functional-zero/ ) in two years at an annual cost less than the amount budgeted for homeless encampment sweeps.

Here is the follow-up email that was sent to all members of Seattle City Council. A similar email was sent to all members of the King County Council and to certain members of the media.

tiny homes for the homeless at Southend Village in seattle

Dear Council Budget Chair Mosqueda, members of the Budget Committee and Seattle City Council Members,

Thank you for giving me my 90 seconds of fame on Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting. As promised, attached you will find the details of “Getting to Functional Zero” that I explained at that meeting.  You will find the details of the spreadsheet that I showed you as well as a recording of a Zoom meeting where this plan was rolled out.

A brief history of how this came about: on September 11th, we assembled a group at The Hope Factory consisting of the following people:

·         Shannon Braddock, King County Deputy Executive

·         Michael Padilla Campo, King County External Relations Associate

·         Andrew Lewis, Seattle City Council and Chair of the Homelessness Committee (invited but not in attendance.)

·         Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle City Council and Vice Chair of the Homelessness Committee (attended by her Chief of Staff.)

·         Marco Lowe, Director of Operations for Mayor Harrell (invited but not in attendance.)

·         Sharon Lee, director of the Low Income Housing Institute

·         Jon Grant, political liaison with LIHI

·         Jay Yong, head building supervisor for the infrastructure setup with LIHI’s tiny home villages

·         Barb Oliver, Director of Operations, Sound Foundations NW.

This group met and brainstormed ways that we could get to Functional Zero.  (https://community.solutions/built-for-zero/functional-zero/) The consensus of the group was that there are 15,000 homeless neighbors in King County, half of those are living on the streets. We worked out a plan to add five more new tiny home villages which would create the tipping point to end homelessness.

completed tiny houses for the homeless awaiting delivery to a tiny home village

For the next two weeks, I spent time on a spreadsheet with a calculator and figured out that we would only need four more new villages with only 40 homes each to get to the tipping point. Then I took our cost of building a tiny home and LIHI’s costs to both set up the infrastructure and the annual operating costs and extrapolated those figures over time to see how we can actually get to Functional Zero.

The answer is quite remarkable. Only two years and only four more villages than what LIHI has planned will get us to Functional Zero!

having fun at sound foundations NW, a non-profit builder of tiny houses for the homeless in seattle

We know that tiny home villages work. We have gotten over 3000 of our homeless neighbors off the ground since the program’s inception: over 2000 people last year alone! I personally know hundreds of folks who have gone on to school, employment, help with drug and alcohol treatment, and other ways to get to the best part of their lives.

Tiny home villages aren’t the only way to solve homelessness, but they are a big part of the solution. We have a six year track record of success that Mayor Harrell called “the first best solution to homelessness.”

HOMELESSNESS IS SOLVABLE, and here it is in black and white!

a completed tiny house for the homeless at sound foundations nw, a non-profit builder of tiny homes in seattle

The best news of all is that it is affordable. If you look at the total for everything including the cost of homes as well as the cost of setting up AND running the villages, it is only around $69 million. The cost per year is significantly less than the $38 million Mayor Harrell has asked in the budget for sweeps. In other words, it actually costs less to put a roof over the head, a lock on the door, food and a hot shower, and wraparound services for every homeless man, woman and child than it does to sweep a wet tent with a person in it who will just live in their wet tent somewhere else.

We all know that a budget is also a moral document. In this budget with this committee at this time, you can literally change the lives of thousands of our citizens. More people on the streets have died in the first six months of this year than all of last year combined. THIS PLAN SAVES LIVES.

building a tiny home for the homeless in seattle

To those of you leaving Seattle City Council this year, first I would like to say thank you for your service. Many of you I have gotten to know over the years, and you have made an impact on our community. As you leave, if you haven’t already, think about what your legacy will be. Will you be the person that says, “I voted to sweep more people around the city.” Or do you want your legacy to be “I was a part of good government that took care of the most vulnerable of our community and helped them to a better life.” Only you can answer that question, and you are the one who must live with your decision.

Again, thank you for taking the time to review these documents. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me by email or cell phone. 




To see the October 18th Seattle City Council Budget Hearing, go to:

https://seattlechannel.org/BudgetCommittee/?videoid=x151402 —  Sound Foundations NW is at 1:04.00.

For an explanation and all of the details of the two year plan “Getting to Functional Zero” including the financials and a recording of the Zoom meeting where this was rolled out, please go to



“What Can I Do?”

Seattle City Council votes on the budget in mid-November. Please…email your council member or all city council (https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council) or email all council members at council@seattle.gov  Tell them why you think tiny home villages are important.  Your email will make a difference.  And don’t forget to vote!


links to news stories about homelessness in Seattle and elsewhere

As the Workers Behind the KCRHA’s Abandoned Partnership for Zero Program, We Were Betrayed. And So Were You.


upcoming news and events that impact tiny homes for the homeless, a temporary solution to homelessness, in Seattle

  • October 31st, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal will be building with us at The Hope Factory (assuming she is not stuck in the other Washington.)
  • November 6th, we will host members of the King County Regional Homeless Authority for a tour of The Hope Factory.
  • November 8th, we will host a virtual Lunch and Learn for Amazon.
  • December 12th, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be building with us.



henderson tiny home village for the homeless in seattle

Henderson Village is one of three tiny home villages currently under construction.

maple leaf tiny home village for the homeless in seattle

Maple Leaf Village in Lake City is the second village under construction. Salmon Bay Village in Interbay is the third village that is just starting. (No photos yet.) Salmon Bay Village will be mostly RVs with around 10 tiny homes.



  • Our “regulars“ who are the heart and soul of our organization.
  • “New Crew” members: Peter, Matt, and Pat.
  • Our wonderful groups: Tzu Chi Young Professionals, Isso Seva, Lake WA Sai Ctr., AWS/Brett’s Team, Horizon House and Bellevue Big Picture School Interns.




Come build with us this week! Here’s the link:


  • Please remember to wear painting clothes even if you do not anticipate painting. Minimum age is 16 years. Please, no exceptions.
  • Clarification: If the SignUpGenius says (The name of a Group Build) AND Open Build, this means that you can volunteer even if you are not a part of the group.
  • TEAM LEADERS IN TRAINING: If you wish to become a Team Leader in Training, DO NOT SIGN UP for the day you wish to do this. Email SoundFoundationsNW@gmail.com and we will put you on the list

We hope to be building with you soon!

Your Leadership Team: Beatrice, Tom, Bruce, David, Timothy and Barb

It Takes a Village to FUND a Village!

YOU are a big part of why stacks and stacks of lumber fill The Hope Factory. There are several ways to give throughout the year. Questions? Please email devel.sfnw@gmail.com. All gifts qualify as tax deductible but please consult your tax professional for your own situation.

  • To give by check, credit/ debit card, a Donor Advised Fund, or a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA, start on our Donate page, or:donate to help build tiny homes for the homeless in Seattle

Sponsor a Home: our tiny home sponsor wall thanks donors to Sound Foundations who have donated the cost of materials to build one tiny home for the homeless

Remember, if you sponsor a home (currently $4500), you get to name the home! Tiny home sponsors have their names (or “anonymous”) and the name of their home added to our Tiny Home Sponsor wall and join our growing list of supporters who’ve reached a little deeper to become part of the solution to ending homelessness. Email devel.sfnw@gmail.com for details.


A Few Reminders

  • We do tours every day but Friday. Come visit if you haven’t been yet.
  • We have a “Welcome to Sound Foundations NW” PowerPoint presentation that is also in .pdf form. If people ask you what we are all about, these are a simple thing to attach to an email to explain who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Email SoundFoundationsNW@gmail.com for this .pdf or PowerPoint.
  • We fund our homes through a combination of private and public donations. For more information, please go to our website – Helping Finance the Homes.

Protocols, Address, Directions

  1. Volunteer at your own risk for Covid or any other illness. If you are experiencing any symptoms, please stay home.
  2. Masks are optional when volunteering at The Hope Factory. There is no shame in wearing a mask.
  3. The minimum age is 16 years. Please, no exceptions.
  4. When you are at The Hope Factory, please social distance whenever possible.
  5. Covid booster shots are not required but highly encouraged.
  6. We are usually there by 9 am or 2 pm on most Sundays. Make sure you double check the times in the Sign Up Genius. You can come and go as your schedule permits. Just let us know so we can plan ahead.
  7. Please bring your own gloves. 
  8. Please leave your own tools at home.
  9. Please bring your own lunch. 
  10. No matter what you do, please come prepared to paint. 
  11. Warehouses can be difficult to heat and cool. Please dress appropriately. 
  12. We currently have no indoor restrooms, Honey Bucket only.
  13. We understand that sometimes life gets in the way of good intentions. If you must cancel at the last minute, please contact us as soon as you know. Others may want to volunteer in your place.
  14. No experience necessary. We train willing hearts. 

OUR ADDRESS is 5 S. Nevada St., Seattle 98109 in SODO. 

GOOGLE MAPS – find us here.

visit our website

Sound Foundations NW