Last week, Councilmember Manahan and I toured several Kalihi/Iwilei and Sand Island homeless shelters and transitional housing with Sharon Lee, Director of Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) as we discussed innovative programs that her nonprofit has developed during the past two decades. Among the locations, we visited were Institute for Human Services’ women’s and men’s shelters, and its “Veterans Engaged in Transition” home in Kalihi Valley, the City’s Hale Mauliola site on Sand Island, Pauahi Hale’s public restroom/shower facilities, and potential State homeless housing sites in Kakaako and Iwilei.
LIHI has developed over 30 permanent supportive housing facilities for special needs homeless populations (e.g., veterans, transitional youth, seniors, chronic homeless with substance abuse/mental health needs) in Downtown Seattle and in surrounding neighborhoods, and is being touted nationally for innovative housing solutions and services:
- One such program is the Urban Rest Stop, which is a hygiene center that provides homeless individuals with public restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities, thereby reducing the level of unsanitary sidewalk activities (see attached brochure). Because of the clean, welcoming design of its URS facilities, LIHI has developed its two URS facilities in Ballard and Downtown Seattle completely through private donations from business, community, and other non-government sources. We are actively pursuing city-state partnerships in Honolulu to develop similar Urban Rest Stop centers in locations like Kakaako, Chinatown, Kalihi-Kapalama and other locations with large numbers of homeless congregating on sidewalks.
- LIHI has also pioneered the development of Tiny Houses Villages, which clusters tiny houses and structures built by community/business volunteers with materials provided by the nonprofit to create a ‘mini-village’ setting for homeless individuals and families to use on a short-term basis. LIHI’s design templates for the tiny houses include electricity for the structures and a restroom facility with sewer/water hook-ups. Councilmembers Manahan and Ozawa recently toured Nickelsville, a temporary encampment of tiny houses and tents housing approximately 40-50 people while in Seattle for a NACO meeting. It provides a low-barrier entry level access to housing and human services.