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See inside an almost $1 million prefab tiny home village near Seattle trying to solve the ongoing homelessness crisis

See inside an almost $1 million prefab tiny home village near Seattle trying to solve the ongoing homelessness crisis
Brittany Chang/Insider
  • The city of Everett, Washington, and nonprofit Everett Gospel Mission opened a tiny home village to shelter unhoused people.
  • The initial development and first six months of operations costed about $975,150.

In 2021, the city of Everett, Washington, partnered with a nonprofit to transform a once unused parcel of land into a colorful "village" equipped with prefab tiny homes to shelter the city's unhoused residents.

In 2021, the city of Everett, Washington, partnered with a nonprofit to transform a once unused parcel of land into a colorful "village" equipped with prefab tiny homes to shelter the city
Brittany Chang/Insider

And this pilot project has seen so much success, the city now has plans to launch two additional villages next year.

And this pilot project has seen so much success, the city now has plans to launch two additional villages next year.
Brittany Chang/Insider

This idea of using prefab tiny homes to create a microcosm of a traditional community wasn't invented by Everett's local government.

This idea of using prefab tiny homes to create a microcosm of a traditional community wasn
Brittany Chang/Insider

But the company behind this concept does call the Pacific Northwest city home.

But the company behind this concept does call the Pacific Northwest city home.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Washington-based Pallet specializes in building prefab homes to shelter people who are unhoused because of natural and personal disasters.

Washington-based Pallet specializes in building prefab homes to shelter people who are unhoused because of natural and personal disasters.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The company's 64-square-foot units are now increasingly being used by nonprofits and local governments to create these tiny home villages.

The company
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider

And so far, this relatively new non-congregate shelter option has seen massive success across the US.

And so far, this relatively new non-congregate shelter option has seen massive success across the US.
Brittany Chang/Insider

In early 2021, the city of Los Angeles and nonprofit Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission opened its first prefab tiny home village to shelter the California city's growing unhoused population.

In early 2021, the city of Los Angeles and nonprofit Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission opened its first prefab tiny home village to shelter the California city
Tiny homes at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village.      Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: Insider, ABC7

The goal of the project was to help people find stability and a permanent housing solution within a couple of months.

The goal of the project was to help people find stability and a permanent housing solution within a couple of months.
The tiny homes at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village.      Brittany Chang/Insider

And just months after opening, the project — a "test case" for Los Angeles, Rowan Vansleve, CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, previously told Insider — was deemed a massive success.

And just months after opening, the project — a "test case" for Los Angeles, Rowan Vansleve, CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, previously told Insider — was deemed a massive success.
Tiny homes at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village.      Brittany Chang/Insider

Since then, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has opened five more locations across Los Angeles, housing over 1,000 Los Angeles residents.

Since then, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has opened five more locations across Los Angeles, housing over 1,000 Los Angeles residents.
Tiny homes at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village.      Brittany Chang/Insider

And it's a success story that's now being repeated in other cities as well.

And it
Brittany Chang/Insider

Nonprofit Everett Gospel Missions’ (EGM) Pallet tiny home village — located just a short drive from Pallet’s headquarters — ran a similar timeline to Los Angeles’ wildly successful program.

Nonprofit Everett Gospel Missions’ (EGM) Pallet tiny home village — located just a short drive from Pallet’s headquarters — ran a similar timeline to Los Angeles’ wildly successful program.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And they all have the same goal: help residents find a permanent home.

And they all have the same goal: help residents find a permanent home.
Brittany Chang/Insider

EGM was tapped by the city to operate the publicly funded project, which received about $975,150 from the county and a state grant for the initial development and first six months of operation, a spokesperson for the city told Insider in a statement.

EGM was tapped by the city to operate the publicly funded project, which received about $975,150 from the county and a state grant for the initial development and first six months of operation, a spokesperson for the city told Insider in a statement.
Brittany Chang/Insider

In 2021, the city equipped the site with an office and 20 $7,500 64-square-foot Pallet homes (the "Shelter 64") with amenities like beds, lockable doors, and air conditioners.

In 2021, the city equipped the site with an office and 20 $7,500 64-square-foot Pallet homes (the "Shelter 64") with amenities like beds, lockable doors, and air conditioners.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And since then, it has doubled in size.

And since then, it has doubled in size.
Brittany Chang/Insider

After seeing success in its first year of operation, the nonprofit recently added 20 additional Shelter 64s …

After seeing success in its first year of operation, the nonprofit recently added 20 additional Shelter 64s …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… five bathrooms with four showers …

… five bathrooms with four showers …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… a 400-square-foot community room …

… a 400-square-foot community room …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… two offices, and more staff, all with the goal of building a true community for its up to 41 residents.

… two offices, and more staff, all with the goal of building a true community for its up to 41 residents.
Brittany Chang/Insider

To do this, EGM spends about $59 per resident daily.

To do this, EGM spends about $59 per resident daily.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"It doesn't have to be a four-star hotel and it doesn't have to be permanent," Cassie Franklin, Everett's mayor, told Insider. This Pallet site is operating on a short-term contract that will "likely" be extended.

"It doesn
Brittany Chang/Insider

"We want them to be ready and willing to work on that next step of [stability]," Franklin said.

"We want them to be ready and willing to work on that next step of [stability]," Franklin said.
Brittany Chang/Insider

EGM's youngest Pallet occupant is currently in their early 20s while the oldest is in their 70s.

EGM
Brittany Chang/Insider

But no matter the age, John Hull, EGM's director of strategic initiatives, told Insider that most have substance use disorders.

But no matter the age, John Hull, EGM
Brittany Chang/Insider

All residents have access to the village's communal spaces, three meals a day, an outdoor cooking site, social services …

All residents have access to the village
Brittany Chang/Insider

… and most importantly, a personal 64-square-foot Pallet unit with a locking door to (temporarily) call home.

… and most importantly, a personal 64-square-foot Pallet unit with a locking door to (temporarily) call home.
Brittany Chang/Insider

These social services — which include case management, clothes, and medical care — are crucial for helping residents transition to permanent housing.

These social services — which include case management, clothes, and medical care —  are crucial for helping residents transition to permanent housing.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Along the way, the goal is to "stabilize" residents' mental and physical health, especially when so many are tackling trauma, behavioral health difficulties, and substance use.

Along the way, the goal is to "stabilize" residents
Brittany Chang/Insider

"This is a safe place for those people to recover and to keep the whole community safe," Franklin said, calling Pallet shelters the "perfect tool."

"This is a safe place for those people to recover and to keep the whole community safe," Franklin said, calling Pallet shelters the "perfect tool."
Brittany Chang/Insider

Time is crucial when it comes to housing people, which is one of the reasons why nonprofits and governments have been flocking to the prefab builder.

Time is crucial when it comes to housing people, which is one of the reasons why nonprofits and governments have been flocking to the prefab builder.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The Shelter 64 can be set up in an hour, which allowed EGM to build the first 20 units in just a few months, Hull said in a YouTube video about the village.

The Shelter 64 can be set up in an hour, which allowed EGM to build the first 20 units in just a few months, Hull said in a YouTube video about the village.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Source: YouTube

To compare, it could take years — and significantly more funding — to build a new congregate shelter.

To compare, it could take years — and significantly more funding — to build a new congregate shelter.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"Pallets are an immediate relief option that works really well," Hull said.

"Pallets are an immediate relief option that works really well," Hull said.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Despite this building efficiency, EGM has no plans to expand past its 41-person capacity: "This is the sweet spot for the number of people we can serve on one site," Hull said.

Despite this building efficiency, EGM has no plans to expand past its 41-person capacity: "This is the sweet spot for the number of people we can serve on one site," Hull said.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The nonprofit's tiny home village is adjacent to its men-only congregate shelter, which has been in operation for over 30 years.

The nonprofit
Brittany Chang/Insider

Hull says the traditional congregate shelter is easier to manage …

Hull says the traditional congregate shelter is easier to manage …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… but according to proponents of Pallet, these communal spaces aren't the perfect solution to the ongoing homelessness crisis.

… but according to proponents of Pallet, these communal spaces aren
Brittany Chang/Insider

The majority of people who are unhoused don't feel "comfortable" in these congregate shelters because of COVID-19, trauma responses, and how triggering living in open shared spaces can be, Amy King, Pallet's CEO, told Insider.

The majority of people who are unhoused don
Brittany Chang/Insider

This stops many unhoused people from seeking help …

This stops many unhoused people from seeking help …
Brittany Chang/Insider

… until they're offered an individual Pallet home with a lockable door, which provides a sense of security and privacy not often available at congregate shelters.

… until they
Brittany Chang/Insider

However, these Pallet villages aren't a foolproof solution to ending the ongoing homelessness crisis either.

However, these Pallet villages aren
Brittany Chang/Insider

Of the first 20 EGM Pallet residents, seven have already exited the site.

Of the first 20 EGM Pallet residents, seven have already exited the site.
Brittany Chang/Insider

Four of these residents either successfully found permanent housing — the ultimate goal — or have moved into a substance use recovery home.

Four of these residents either successfully found permanent housing — the ultimate goal — or have moved into a substance use recovery home.
Brittany Chang/Insider

But another four of the original 20 have moved back onto the streets.

But another four of the original 20 have moved back onto the streets.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"The difficulty is if Pallet doesn't work for them, there's not a whole lot of other options in our community." Hull said. "We're not necessarily equipped to handle pretty severe mental health or psychosis."

"The difficulty is if Pallet doesn
Brittany Chang/Insider

Amy King, Pallet's CEO, says the residents at its roughly 100 Pallet sites across the US stay for an average of three to six months before they find permanent housing.

Amy King, Pallet
Brittany Chang/Insider

But there are no limits for how long a resident can stay at EGM's Pallet shelters.

But there are no limits for how long a resident can stay at EGM
Brittany Chang/Insider

And most of its residents stay for much longer than six months primarily because of prior substance use.

And most of its residents stay for much longer than six months primarily because of prior substance use.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"I'm surprised we got three permanently housed after a year," Hull said.

"I
Brittany Chang/Insider

But no matter the timing, Franklin says the Pallet project has been a "huge success" for Everett.

But no matter the timing, Franklin says the Pallet project has been a "huge success" for Everett.
Brittany Chang/Insider

There's always going to be "nimby-ism" — an abbreviation for "not in my backyard" — when new shelters open up, Franklin said, noting that there's still some public apprehension about the Pallet shelters.

There
Brittany Chang/Insider

But according to Hull, the community and local businesses have been "really pleased" with this new community.

But according to Hull, the community and local businesses have been "really pleased" with this new community.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And soon, unhoused families in Everett may find temporary shelter in a Pallet home as well.

And soon, unhoused families in Everett may find temporary shelter in a Pallet home as well.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The success of this Pallet project has pushed Everett to open two additional tiny home villages in 2023.

The success of this Pallet project has pushed Everett to open two additional tiny home villages in 2023.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And unlike this current site, the upcoming villages will house each family in a larger Pallet home.

And unlike this current site, the upcoming villages will house each family in a larger Pallet home.
Brittany Chang/Insider

"We have a housing crisis nationwide that isn't going to be solved in a couple of years," Franklin said. "And in the meantime, we have to be prepared as communities to house people."

"We have a housing crisis nationwide that isn
Brittany Chang/Insider



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