LYNNWOOD — Residents at Lynnwood’s only sanctioned tent encampment struggled all last winter to keep their tents upright under the heavy snow and rain.
But after a recent vote by the Lynnwood City Council, the tent village on the grounds of Good Shepherd Baptist Church will be allowed to replace its fabric shelters with tiny homes.
The goal of the changes is to give organizations greater flexibility in hosting tent villages or extreme weather shelters as the city sees more people experiencing homelessness, according to documents. The new rules will permit the use of “small portable structures” at outdoor encampments and allow organizations to host extreme weather shelters in buildings that might not fully comply with all current codes.
“The principle being that it is much safer to have people inside, albeit in not a perfect building from a code standpoint, but nonetheless safe. (It’s) a whole lot safer than to have them risk serious incident, up to and including freezing to death outdoors,” said Paul Krauss, Lynnwood’s community development director, during the City Council meeting.
The Jean Kim Foundation, which hosts the encampment at Good Shepherd, has been pushing for these changes, saying temporary tiny homes would offer more privacy and weather protection.
Jason Dunbar, services coordinator for the foundation, said the strict guidelines set out by the city will allow the encampment and neighbors to live in harmony.
“These standards are not easy for us to meet and they require great diligence on our part,” Dunbar told the council during the public hearing Sept. 10. “We do have a good, strong plan.”
He said the foundation runs a “tight ship” which includes a site manager, a selective intake process and drug testing.
Opponents of the ordinance worried crime would increase around the encampments. They also criticized the authorized size of the outdoor encampments and extreme weather shelters, which can house up to 100 people.
Following the public hearing, the Lynnwood City Council voted 6-0 to approve the changes.
Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; email@example.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.