Seattle approves new cluster of tiny homes in Magnuson Park

Affordable housing in Seattle has long been a stumbling block for those trying to transition out of homelessness. High density projects like affordable apartment buildings, high-rises and converted hotels have the benefit of being able to house many people, but they often face obstacles including financing, local approval and longer construction timelines. However, a new approach to a previously tried housing solution may provide some much-needed relief in this area.

Tiny homes have been a point of contention in the city for a while, but the recent construction of a new tiny home cluster in Seattle Magnuson Park may prove that the model can work under the right circumstances. Unlike other tiny home communities, the Magnuson Park enclave features 22 tiny cottages that will be permanent structures, complete with kitchens and bathrooms.

A typical tiny home in Seattle is about 100 square feet and costs around $4,500 to construct. They have lights and heat, and space for a twin bed and some storage. There are currently 328 such tiny homes in the city. While they provide needed shelter for the homeless community and are quickly and easily constructed by volunteers, the lack of amenities makes them poor substitutes for permanent housing.

The new tiny cottages constructed by the Low Income Housing Institute are a major upgrade. They run about 500 square feet and include indoor plumbing for a bathroom and kitchen. The residences also have a separate bedroom, a foundation, insulated walls, heating and air conditioning, and a front porch. The communities are completed with shared public spaces, including play areas for children and community gardens.

The Magnuson Park cottages cost about $280,000 each to build — a not-insubstantial price increase. However, experts and community leaders say the tiny cottages offer a more permanent form of housing for residents, and face less opposition from local communities. In some cases, property values actually rose in the areas where the tiny cottages have been placed before, thanks to their pleasing appearance and the amount of funding and resources that are granted to these cottage communities.

Although the tiny cottages in Magnuson Park represent a new model for addressing the housing shortage in the city, experts agree that it’s not the most practical model for Seattle to embrace. Tiny homes function essentially as condensed single-family homes, whereas an affordable apartment unit in the same area would be able to house a greater number of people. That being said, the tiny cottage model could become a staple housing solution in some of Seattle’s suburbs, where housing access is starting to become an issue and land is more readily available.

Information for this article was sourced from The Seattle Times.

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