Tiny village community poised to change homeless response on Kitsap Peninsula

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – A new tiny-home community is getting close to breaking ground in another Puget Sound community.

More than a dozen tiny homes could soon be open for a growing homeless population in southern Kitsap County. If successful, the pilot project could spread.

County officials looked elsewhere, including in Seattle, to look for solutions to the growing and spreading crisis.

A committee at the Port Orchard Church of Christ could give the green light, which would allow 14 tiny homes on the property for some of the peninsula’s most vulnerable people.

“It’s so important ... that each one of us be able to experience humanity, and a decent place to live and be able to have regular meals and sleep through the night,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Garrido says a county permit would allow the village to operate just outside of Port Orchard but only temporarily.

A coalition of government agencies, social services, nonprofits, civic groups, churches and businesses formed the group ‘Homes for All’, focusing efforts to make homelessness a rare and one-time event for those falling on hard times.

“It’s important that those of us who have something remember that we are a community, and reach our hand out to help,” said Garrido.

“I have been homeless myself,” said Robin Berube, who lives hear the tiny village host site.

She says she welcomes the idea of using tiny homes as a way to get people off the streets and into services.

“I support it as long as they’re keeping some maintenance on it, I support it,” she said.

County officials say there will be a thorough screening process for applicants who will have to pass criminal background checks. Drugs and alcohol will not be allowed on site.

However, some neighbors are so worried about the tiny village attracting crime, and at least one homeowner is considering building a new fence.

But, Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson told Q13 News he supports the pilot project.

“It’s much safer for the people coming into the facility or into the village as well as the community that surrounds it,” he said.

Each tiny home will have access to a community kitchen, and a secured entry like other villages in Seattle.

Officials say the goal is to move tenants into more permanent housing and the site could be operational before the cold weather season begins.

Berube says it’s a hand-up she wish she had when she was homeless.

“There are people that are still living in their car, going to work,” she said. “They have a job, they just can’t’ afford to pay rent.”

A series of community meetings are scheduled for public input. Information about those events can be found at this link.