COVID-19 pushed Seattle to provide housing for homeless people

Preventing food insecurity during COVID-19

Lola Anderson-Najera finally has a door that locks.

After years of weaving in and out homelessness, sleeping “elbow-to-elbow” in shelters and sometimes outside, she’s found a tiny, temporary home. It’s small, but it has a chair to read in, an end table to hold her things, and fresh sheets. Above all, she said, there’s a new feeling of security.

“I think I actually sleep with a smile on my face here,” Anderson-Najera said.

Anderson-Najera’s 96-square-foot home, which she moved into in mid-April, is part of a new tiny-house village in Seattle’s Central District that was built and opened early as the city rushed to find more housing solutions to protect its homeless population from the spread of the coronavirus. Normally, these projects take months of paperwork and approvals, said Josh Castle of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which built the tiny houses. But the pandemic changed all that.

“[City officials] reached out to us and said, ‘We actually need you to set up these sites as quickly as possible,’ ” said Castle, LIHI’s advocacy and community engagement director.


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