Prefab shelters by Pallet displayed in demo at Camp Second Chance

Camp Second Chance – the newly city-sanctioned, but not new, encampment on the west side of Myers Way S. on the southeastern edge of West Seattle – is now officially on the road to expansion.

Its first city referral happened this week, and as of Saturday, the camp had 17 residents, according to operator Polly Trout of Patacara Community Services. The city envisions up to 70 residents. We talked with her at CSC this weekend after a demonstration watched by campers and visitors, related to a key question: Will camp residents have anything more than tents to sleep in?

The demonstration was by Pallet, a sideline of Square Peg Development. They’re making prefab shelters that can sleep four – and can be assembled in minutes, starting with a pile of components as shown in our photo above.

That’s a short segment of what turned out to be an almost 9-minute assembly time. The shelters are aluminum framed, made from a honeycombed, light “yet very strong” material, and can be assembled, disassembled, and reassembled repeatedly with no sign of wear and tear.

Each one costs almost $5,000. There’s no official city RFP or other process to fund these (or any other structures) for Camp Second Chance, so for the encampment to get some would be a matter of private fundraising, separate from the services the city is providing. (One person with city ties was there to observe, though – Councilmember Lisa Herbold.)

Still, the price tag is a challenge. Trout mentioned after the demo that the camp has a donor who will be picking up the tab for 15 Costco pre-fab structures that go for $1500. Pallet, meantime, says it’s working on a proposal to provide some shelters for Seattle’s forthcoming Navigation Center low-barrier shelter. They’re also working on a double-size version of the shelter that would have a bathroom and kitchen.
Pallet is currently having these built by state Department of Corrections inmates (at Stafford Creek). The company also says its parent company hires people who are rebuilding lives on the outside – those who are formerly incarcerated or in recovery, for example.

Meantime, we asked Camp Second Chance leadership more about what’s happening there, now that they’re sanctioned. A potable-water cistern is due soon. They’ve also applied to get an electric hookup. And they’re hoping for a portable toilet – to replace the Honey Bucket type – and shower. Trash service already has begun. The city, meantime, promises a third community meeting soon.

11 Replies to "Prefab shelters by Pallet displayed in demo at Camp Second Chance"

  • JoB March 20, 2017 (9:38 am)

    if the company is using inmate labor to build these structures.. aka . public resources.. why is the cost per unit so high?

    • Amy King March 20, 2017 (10:29 am)

      The cost for these units is higher due to the quality and durability of the material. A majority of the expense goes back to Correctional Industries and to the very individuals who manufacture them – providing them opportunity and job skills so they can succeed following release. So we are not using public resources, we pay CI and  the incarcerated individuals to produce these units.

      While the planned Costco units appear more affordable, the published cost is only for the 4 walls. The roof shingles, windows and doors are each an additional cost. Also, these units require assembly, are incredibly heavy and difficult to move, and will not hold up to multiple uses. When you factor in labor for assembly, extra items and cost to move, you’ll get pretty close to our cost. The Pallet Shelters do have a higher price tag initially. However, they can be reused over and over, providing a higher value over the long term. 

      • Rachel March 20, 2017 (9:46 pm)

        With inmates making as little as 55ยข per hour, I fail to see how the labor cost could account for a majority of the expense.

    • brian March 20, 2017 (11:19 am)

      Treating incarcerated American citizens as a “public resource” incentivizes abuse and exploitation of your fellow human beings. Unwarp your world view. 

      • John March 20, 2017 (1:02 pm)

        I take no exception to putting our incarcerated American citizens to work.  They’re doing nothing for society while behind bars, so might as while get some economical benefit from their labor.  If I was incarcerated I would much rather want to be doing something with my hands instead of sitting around waiting for the end of my sentence.  Good way to learn a skill.

  • KBear March 20, 2017 (10:41 am)

    $5000 for a sturdy reusable shelter seems like a pretty good value to me.

  • Clint b March 20, 2017 (2:00 pm)

    Pre Fab shelters by “Pallets”=Free. Put the homeless to work with their free days.

  • WestCake March 20, 2017 (6:06 pm)

    The stadiums sit empty most of the time, have heat, bathrooms, near public trans, paid for by taxpayers – let them sleep there.
    Also tons of storage containers sitting around in the marine area, make an offer for those containers, they’re water proof. I’ve seen people using them at camp grounds before.
    Reuse, recycle, re purpose.

    • West Seattle Hipster March 21, 2017 (7:12 am)

      From the way I see our streets, parks, greenbelts, and sidewalks getting trashed, I don’t think allowing them access to the stadiums is a prudent idea.

      • WestCake March 21, 2017 (10:40 pm)

        The stadiums get trashed by the fans all the time and we clean it up. :) Hire some of the people “living” there as a cleaning crew, it could easily work.

        Having that type of transient population in one place, would make a census, medical care, basic hygiene, social services, so much easier for everyone involved. The 12th man is the fans right? Those people are fans too.

  • Gretchen March 24, 2017 (5:41 pm)

    Hmmmm. Why is it that incarcerated people can’t pick up garbage or clean out homeless camps because it’s considered slavery, (forcing taxpayers to pay a bloated wage to have it done). Yet they ARE permitted to assemble shacks for homeless? 

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