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Benu Community Home and Friendship Heights Tiny House Village Open

The City of Seattle has opened over 350 new units of non-congregate shelter over the last three months

Today, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) announced the opening of two new shelters for people experiencing homelessness, Benu Community Home, a 24/7 enhanced shelter, and Friendship Heights Tiny House Village. Together, they are anticipated to serve over 200 people experiencing homelessness providing wraparound onsite services and a pathway to permanent housing. These projects continue the recent surge in investments by the City to provide safe spaces for hundreds of people living unsheltered during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and as winter approaches.

Benu Community Home

Benu Community Home, located at the former Keiro Rehabilitation and Care Center (1607 Yesler Way), will be operated by Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) and will serve up to 150 male-identifying adults once fully operational in the first quarter of 2022. The program is 24/7 and will provide onsite wraparound services including case management, behavioral health supports, substance use disorder supports, housing navigation, and employment assistance.

Guest room configurations are single, double, triple, and quad, and are equipped with locker storage space, a bathroom that includes toilet and sink, and a multi-stall shower room on resident floors. The facility is ADA-accessible, and three meals are provided daily.

Through culturally appropriate services, the program aims to address the over-representation of people identifying as Black or African American in the homelessness system. According to the 2020 Point in Time Count, while those who are Black or African American make up 7% of King County’s population, they represent 25% of those experiencing homelessness. Referrals into the program will be accepted from HSD’s HOPE Team and other providers.  

In September, ACLT led a three-part community engagement meeting process with interested stakeholders and neighbors designed to incorporate feedback from community, including the Japanese American and Asian communities, into the design of the program. Community engagement activities by ACLT and the City also included community meetings and the distribution of flyers on the program to neighbors and nearby businesses. 

Friendship Heights Tiny House Village 

The new Friendship Heights Tiny House Village is located at 12245 Aurora Ave. N. on property owned by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and will provide 47 new tiny houses. LIHI has established a religious sponsorship for the program with Epic Life Church and Seattle Foursquare Church.

This is the final of three tiny house village projects approved as part of the 2021 budget to come online within the last two months and provide a total of 113 new village shelter units. Last month, Rosie’s Tiny House Village in the University District opened providing 36 new tiny houses that can serve up to 50 people experiencing homelessness. On November 16, the expansion of the existing Interbay Tiny House Village was completed providing 30 new units and bringing the total number of tiny houses at Interbay to 70. 

Shelter referrals into Friendship Heights will be made by HSD’s HOPE Team based on shelter recommendations from their outreach provider partners. A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will be formed to provide community input on operations and address concerns. The CAC will meet monthly, and members often include immediate neighbors, businesses, community and faith groups, and service providers.  

HSD will maintain oversight of these two programs through the end of the year. Beginning in 2022, the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) will take on administration of their budgets and contracts. The City opened its first tiny house village in 2017 and now funds ten villages providing 410 units of shelter.

By the end of the year, the City-funded system is anticipated to include 2,837 units of shelter, an increase of over 530 beds over pre-pandemic levels (Q4 2019).

**This post was originally published on the Homelessness Response blog.