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Tacoma opens temporary tiny home village to several dozen unsheltered people

Tacoma has opened a tiny home village in the city’s Hilltop neighborhood that will house several dozen people who are camped in a nearby park.

On Thursday, residents began moving into the temporary shelter site, which is expected to be in operation for the next six months.

In place of a vacant lot, there are rows of tiny homes that are equipped with beds, windows, heat, a small kitchen and other basic necessities.

This is the first tiny home village that the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has set up in Tacoma.

“You’ve got some people who have been waiting to be back in an environment like this, a home where they can cook again and wash dishes,” said Eric Davis of LIHI.

Altogether, the village has enough room for 35 people. Many more have been camped out at People’s Park in recent weeks.

Beginning this month, daytime camping in Tacoma parks officially became illegal. The new village is one effort to provide a place for those who are camped nearby.

Allyson Griffith, with the City of Tacoma’s Neighborhood and Community Services Department, acknowledges there isn’t enough room at the site for everyone.

“At the point that we have shelter available for everyone, then we will look at enforcement options,” Griffith said. “We do need to be conscious of both the public safety needs of our residents, as well as the needs of the individuals living at the park.”

Griffith says the city expects about 70 more shelter beds to come online soon.

The new village will be monitored around the clock and have a code conduct that residents will need to follow.

In the coming months, it’s likely people will cycle through the village as they find more stable housing options.

Davis says not everyone who is camped in the park will want to live in the village.

“We’ve got more than enough people who are willing to come in,” Davis said. “There are a lot of people who just want a chance to start over. This is for them.”

Will Stone is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.