Tiny home village for women-only opening in Ballard

SEATTLE -- A unique tiny home village only for women is opening in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

For months, organizers worked on the 15 tiny homes that make up the new Whittier Heights Village.

“We don’t have enough affordable housing in Seattle,” said Sherry Sternhagen, a housing case manager for The Low Income Housing Institute, which develops, owns and operates housing for low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington.

Sternhagen will oversee day-to-day operations of the new Whittier Heights Village.

Growing up, Sternhagen says she experienced homelessness. Now, she is able to help provide a place that about 20 women will be able to call home.

Organizers say while it’s important the women feel at home in the tiny home village; a big focus is also on making sure they are safe.

“They’re so use to the violence, “said Sternhagen. “It happens regularly. I have women in my office crying saying, ‘I was raped last week.’”

With this new community, Sternhagen says, her hope is to not only get many women out of dangerous situations but keep them safe while they live here.

She says there will be cameras all throughout the site -- something that she says is not common in all the tiny house villages. Sternhagen also says they will have lighting, secured fences, and a staff member onsite 24/7, something that no other village has, she says.

The four wood walls may not seem like much, but Sternhagen says they will give homeless women a sense of safety, which they may have never felt.

“For someone living in a tent on the street for a week, or a month, or a year, or 10 years, or 30 years, it’s a whole new ball game,” she said.

The residents will move into the new village on Wednesday.

Organizers say Mayor Jenny Durkan was a huge help in creating this new village. This is the first tiny home village to open under her term as mayor.

The institute operates the Tiny House Village program in partnership with Nickelsville, SHARE/Wheel, the City of Seattle, and Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.