GUESS WHAT JULY IS?
July is volunteer appreciation month! We are so proud of what you all do day in and day out at The Hope Factory, we decided to honor you. If you have volunteered at least 20 hours with us, there is a free Sound Foundations NW T-shirt with your name on it!
Under the Welcome sign at The Hope Factory there is a brown cabinet where you will find your T-shirt. Just come in and get one. One T-shirt per person please. We will not ship them for you; you must come in and get it yourself. The shirts are on a first come, first served basis. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Thanks again for all you do!
WELCOME ANDREW BUCHANAN
We are pleased to announce that Andrew Buchanan has accepted the newly created position of Development and Communications Coordinator. Not only does Andrew have a rich history of volunteering as a Team Leader with us, he also has the skills necessary to help our Development Team as well as providing us with rich materials on our social media platforms and website. (He is also taking about 10 hours/week off Barb’s plate, which is a real relief!) Most importantly, Andrew possesses the passion for our cause as well as sound judgement and great character. Andrew, we’re glad you’re onboard!
UPDATE ON THE UPCOMING VILLAGES
Two villages have homes built by other builders besides Sound Foundations NW. Many of the homes in those villages are not doing so well. Two villages are being moved: The land on the current Othello Village will become permanent low income apartments developed by LIHI. LUV Village (Lake Union Village) is being moved because the land that is owned by the city of Seattle is being sold. LIHI has determined that as they move the two villages, they should replace the homes in the two villages with newer homes (mostly ours.)
Henderson is the replacement for Othello, and Maple Leaf is the replacement for LUV. Site work has started at Henderson and will hopefully be wrapping up in September. Maple Leaf will hopefully start in August or September and be wrapping up in October/November. More on Maple Leaf Village here: https://www.lihihousing.org/post/new-tiny-house-village-coming-to-maple-leaf
There is not a firm date for the Raven (Ballard) ribbon cutting, but we are hoping for the week of 7/24, fingers crossed!
With the three villages, we will have approximately 75 homes still in storage without a village. We are working on getting funding for at least two more villages this year.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Speaking of more villages, Barb has been busy speaking with the electeds on how we can get funding for more villages. She has emailed Dow Constantine, emailed and spoken with King County and Seattle City Council Members. This week, Barb will be meeting with the Senior Policy Advisor on Homelessness for Jay Inslee (again), this time at The Hope Factory.
Barb wrote the following Letter to the Editor to both the Seattle Times and to Post Alley. The Times rejected the letter because of its length, and Post Alley rejected the letter because it was “too controversial”. So, we will publish the letter here so that at least 3000+ of you can respond if you wish. Here’s the letter:
I AM SO FRUSTRATED! There are 15,000 homeless folks in King County. Yet there are only about 750 tiny homes. Tiny homes are the most successful program that King County has, not to just manage homelessness but to END HOMELESSNESS.
My name is Barb Oliver. I am the Director of Operations for Sound Foundations NW (https://www.soundfoundationsnw.org/). Since 2018, we have been producing tiny homes to get our homeless neighbors off the streets and into a temporary space so that they can breathe, be safe, and concentrate on the next part of their lives. In fact, we now build nearly 8 out of every 10 tiny homes for the tiny home villages in King County.
- For the past five years, the tiny home village program, spearheaded by the Low Income Housing Institute(https://www.lihihousing.org/tinyhouses) has been one of the most successful programs in transitioning our homeless neighbors from being on the streets, to tiny home villages, to permanent housing. Last year alone, we got over 2000 people off the streets.
- The median length of stay of a tiny home resident is 114 days. That means that roughly three people transition through each tiny home each year. Our homes are built to last 20 years. That means that every tiny home we build can serve up to 60 people in the lifetime of the home.
Where is the bottleneck?
- It isn’t the lack of tiny homes. The first three months of this year, in the coldest three months of this year, our volunteers spent nearly 7000 hours building tiny homes in a warehouse with no heat. Right now, there are about 185 tiny homes sitting in storage waiting for a tiny home village.
- It isn’t land: Both LIHI and several prominent council members from both Seattle and King County have indicated to me that there is plenty of land. Four of the last six tiny home villages were built on church property.
The bottleneck lies, quite frankly, with the people who control the funding for the tiny home villages. I say this with all due respect for the council members for both the city of Seattle and King County that have told me time and time again that they are all for tiny home villages as a large part to the solution of homelessness. I believe them. So, show us with THE MONEY THAT IS ALREADY IN THE BUDGETS that you mean it. Your budgets are the people’s money. Let’s give it back to the people who deserve it.
Now that Marc Dones has left, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) has committed, at least verbally, to building more tiny home villages. Anne Martens, KCRHA’s Communications Director (who previously called tiny home villages “shantytowns”) said,
“The first draft (of the Five Year Plan) also seemed to suggest that King County had too many tiny homes. This version takes out those numbers.” Martens said they were confused, and KCRHA believes “increasing all types of temporary housing is necessary to meet the need.”
Yet, when you look at KCRHA’s current Request for Proposal, they are calling for only two tiny home villages with only 25 homes each. (The average village is 40 homes): one village for 2023 and one village for 2024.
Only 50 tiny homes in the next two years with 15,000 homeless neighbors on our streets. That’s like bailing out the Titanic with a teaspoon.
We at Sound Foundations NW wanted to do something more significant. So, we initiated our Four Year Plan (https://www.soundfoundationsnw.org/the-four-year-plan/) that if executed properly, would get 15,120 people off the streets by December 2025. That means every single homeless man, woman, and child will have a roof over their heads and out of the rain, a lock on their door to keep them safe, food in their stomach, and the wraparound services needed for them to get to the next stage of their lives. And all for a TOTAL COST OF LESS THAN TWO HOTELS. It’s not rocket science. With our Four Year Plan, I believe we can, and WE WILL END HOMELESSNESS IN KING COUNTY.
What can you do? Very simply, email your Seattle City and King County Council Members and KCRHA. Tell them that tiny home villages work. Tell them to release the funding ALREADY IN THE BUDGET for the villages. Let Sound Foundations NW and LIHI do what we do best to get everyone off the streets. Maybe if the electeds hear it enough times, they will DO something about it.
Homelessness is not just about data. People on the streets are actually PEOPLE. Am I the only one who cares that our neighbors are on the streets with the rats and the feces and the drugs and the crime? We should be building these villages NOW so that when the rains start in the fall, they will be warm, safe, and dry.
Our homeless neighbors deserve the best we can offer. Please help me get the word to the right people so that, once again, we can be proud of our city, our county, and ALL the people who live here.