Tiny Home Villages Work (and the Data to Prove It)

All information on this page courtesy of the Low Income Housing Institute (https://www.lihihousing.org/tinyhouses

KCRHA = The King County Regional Homeless Authority   (https://kcrha.org/

KCRHA’s Five Year Plan can be found here: 

https://kcrha.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/DRAFT_KCRHA_5-Year-Plan.pdf

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In 2022 close to 50% of people who exited a tiny house moved into permanent housing. This is from HMIS data on the performance of LIHI’s tiny house villages in Seattle /King County. HMIS data tracks performance and stands for Homeless Information Management System. https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/hmis/In 2023, this number was 63% according to LIHI’s data.
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The RHA Five Year Plan itself documents the success of tiny houses as they perform much better than congregate shelters. 
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Not only do tiny houses perform better and have better outcomes and more exits to permanent housing, the tiny house villages are in high demand and have high occupancy rates compared to congregate shelters. 
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KCRHA on page 27 of the plan states “…utilization rates across the shelter system remains low in comparison to the number of beds. Bed vacancy rates for KCRHA-funded shelters have ranged from 11% in 2019, their lowest rate in recent years, but have grown steadily to 23% in 2021.” 
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On page 28, the KCRHA plan states: …. “existing micro-modular shelters,” commonly referred to as “tiny homes”, hotels and motels ….. “have consistently higher utilization rates at 90% (in comparison to the broader system’s 77%), and preliminary data suggests that they create pathways to stabilization and higher rates of exit to permanent housing: nearly 50% thus far, compared to previous congregate shelter models, which produced exit rates to permanent housing of 14-19% in recent years.”
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Tiny houses are a form of non-congregate shelter. On page 28 the plan states: “This shelter model, now commonly referred to as non-congregate shelter or “emergency housing”, represents the region’s best hope at resolving the unsheltered crisis.”
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A City Council staff memo concluded that tiny houses have the lowest capital cost compared with other forms of shelter and housing. “The emergency or permanent housing option with the lowest capital cost to create the unit is tiny house villages, which would require an estimated $15,000 per tiny home for startup.” The annual operating cost for a tiny houses is also the lowest when compared with hotel sheltering or permanent supportive housing. See page 10, Seattle City Council Central Staff. Jeff Simms et al, July 6, 2021. 
Outreach workers report that tiny houses are the most popular and frequently requested form of shelter. 
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The City’s HOPE Team and the Human Services  Dept. tracks data shows that only about 36.5% who receive shelter referrals actually show up to that shelter and stayed overnight. Erica Barnett reported this in her Publicola article on May 6, 2022. “In general, tiny house villages—private mini-shelters that are among the most desirable forms of shelter currently available in King County—had a much higher enrollment rate than congregate shelters. Three of the four highest-performing shelters on the HOPE Team’s list were tiny house village.”
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“Friendship Heights, a tiny house village on Aurora that had the highest enrollment rate at 59%, opened last December; Rosie’s Village in the University District, with a 42% enrollment rate, opened in November; and Interbay Tiny House Village, with a 47% enrollment rate, expanded to add 30 new units in November.”
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In contrast, the DESC Navigation Center, an 75-bed low-barrier shelter had an enrollment rate of 21%. Compass Center’s Jan and Peter’s Place had an enrollment rate of 17.5%. 
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In conclusion, tiny houses are the most cost effective and fast way to add non-congregate emergency shelter.  Plus close to 50% of people who exit secure permanent housing. Other forms of emergency shelters as noted are showing only 14-19% exits to permanent housing (page 28). Plus traditional shelters have high vacancy rates, 23% vacant (page 27), compared with tiny house villages which are always full and in demand. People sleeping outdoors vote with their feet, they want tiny houses and will leave their tents voluntarily and eagerly to move into a tiny house. The many homeless outreach workers will confirm this. When threatened with being swept, frequently people will refuse offers of traditional shelter beds by the city’s HOPE Team, REACH and others and instead move their tent to another park, sidewalk or public right-of-way.