PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Kitsap County leaders are hoping a tiny home village in Port Orchard will lead to some big changes when it comes to homelessness in the area.
We’ve told you about tiny home communities popping up across western Washington before, and now there plans in the works to bring one to Port Orchard.
People in the Port Orchard community now chipping in and working together to make the tiny home community a reality.
“it’s an affordable way to create housing quickly and help people begin to redevelop their sense of security and self-worth, as well as a sense of community,” Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido explained.
Recent data collected from a homeless count taken in January found that there were at least 173 people living unsheltered and on the streets of Kitsap County. That’s a 16% increase since 2018.
“We found that increasing rent was the single largest driver of homelessness, putting people out of their homes,” Garrido told us.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, for every $100 increase in rent, homelessness rises by 32% in rural areas and 6% in metro areas.
Kitsap County rents increased 47% since 2014, leaving many people with no place to turn.
Doug Washburn is the Kitsap County director of human services; he says the county is looking at more affordable housing options now to prepare for the future.
“We need to make sure we are building now for 5 years or 10 years later, because a lot of people are one paycheck away from losing their house,” Washburn said.
The new proposed tiny house village in Port Orchard would consist of 14 tiny homes. It will be gated with a security checkpoint, and there will also be a zero-tolerance drug policy.
People living in tiny home communities across the country typically stay for 90-day periods before transitioning to more permanent living arrangements.
A local construction company has donated trailers for a community center at the proposed village. Several local churches and groups have also all chipped in by building the small homes.
While it may be a small start, Kitsap County officials are hoping the tiny homes, combined with mental health and job resources for the residents, will be the first step to getting people off the streets and back onto their feet again.
“If we can get people making money, if we can get them to be in treatment, if we can get them to mental health services, it works well,” Washburn said.