Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Review: The next wave of villages take root

As 2016 draws to a close, it feels as though we are on the cusp of something big...

It's hard to believe it's been two and a half years since Tent City Urbanism was published. While I haven't posted here in a bit, in the past I've reported on progress made in 2014 and 2015, and thought I would give it a try again this year.

The Village Collaborative Network continues to grow, with over 1,000 people now listed in all corners of the country and beyond. But bringing the village model to fruition has been met by various political barriers in many areas.

the Village Collaborative Network

At SquareOne Villages, we've been working on compiling a Tiny House Village Toolbox, which we're preparing to launch in early 2017, with the intent of providing a set of resources to assist more groups in launching a tiny home community in their area. This work was made possible by a grant from Meyer Memorial Trust, and we just received a second grant to build our capacity to "lead, innovate, and disseminate the development of affordable tiny house villages throughout Oregon" over the next two years.

Emerald Village received its land use approvals, and is scheduled to open by summer. We also partnered with the Cottage Village Coalition to plan a similar permanent, affordable village in Cottage Grove, Oregon. And in November, the Medford City Council unanimously approved a site for Hope Village, a tiny house community modeled after Opportunity Village.

Seattle's Tent City 3 and Portland's Dignity Village provided foundational inspiration for Tent City Urbanism by pioneering a successful, democratic community-based model for responding to homelessness. While the two examples were first established back in 2000, this year we saw a heavy resurgence in a next generation of villages from both Northwest cities.

A partnership between Nickelsville, LIHI, and the City of Seattle led to four different tent cities and tiny house villages being legally established throughout the city in 2016. Following on this success, the city has sanctioned three additional communities that will open in 2017, providing precedent for scaling-up the village model. A collaboration between two dozen high school and community college construction programs will lead the building of the tiny homes.

Othello Village | Seattle, WA

Portland's Village Coalition is making similar progress, in which several existing self-governed tent and tiny house communities—like Dignity Village, Right 2 Dream Too, Hazelnut Grove, and Forgotten Realm—and a variety of advocates have banded together. As part of the POD Initiative, a collaborative design workshop was held in October, and then during a two-week period in December, fourteen unique "sleeping pods" with a footprint between 6’x8’ and 8’x12’ were built by various teams. After being put on display a few weeks ago, there are now plans to move the structures to the Kenton Neighborhood to form Argyle Village in early 2017.

POD Initiative | Portland, OR

Finally, advancements were also made on the policy end. Thanks to an effort led by Andrew Morrison and several other tiny house advocates, a Tiny House Appendix was approved for the next iteration of the International Residential Code. 

Meanwhile, a state law was signed in California, allowing the City of San Jose "to temporarily suspend state building, safety and health codes for the purpose of building 'unconventional' housing structures," which they are calling Bridge Housing Communities. 

I'm sure there are several other examples I am leaving out, but that's all I have time for at the moment... 

Looking forward to seeing how things play out in 2017!



  1. Thanks for recapping all the monumental progress made by you and other members of the tiny house movement! I'm looking forward to the Tiny House Village Tool Box. Keep up the good work!

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  3. It's true that The Village Collaborative Network continues to grow, with over 1,000 people now listed in all corners of the country and beyond. But bringing the village model to fruition has been met by various political barriers in many areas. Quite an informative post.
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