CAMP SECOND CHANCE: Updates from West Seattle’s only tiny-house encampment

The expanded-capacity Camp Second Chance in southeast West Seattle [map] continues to operate at capacity. That’s part of what the tiny-house encampment’s Community Advisory Committee heard at its online meeting Tuesday night, facilitated by case manager Marjorie Johnson.

CAMP STATUS: 75 people right now, including 10 couples – so its 65 tiny houses are all occupied. Eight pets – four dogs, four cats. Four 911 calls were made in the past month – two medical, two police. Two people had to leave the camp “for violence.” In August, 15 people in all exited the camp – 12 were “abandonments” (meaning they just departed of their own volition, likely back to the street); 2 went to jail; 1 went to permanent housing. 15 IDs and 20+ Social Security cards were procured in August; she has applications out for apartments for more than a dozen campers. Right now there’s a woman at the camp whose two children are with her mom since CSC doesn’t allow children, and Johnson just found out that the woman has a chance at a Section 8 voucher. Also, there’s housing available in Everett, and multiple possibilities for people over 62. One client – “one of our originals” – received an emergency-housing voucher and gave it back because “they’re making over 80 percent median income and don’t need the voucher any more.” (That means CSC got the voucher back to use for someone else.) The camp has a full-time mental-health/chemical-dependency counselor; several tiny-house villages are partnering with Therapeutic Health Services for this kind of support. Johnson said she’s gotten housing for 42 people in the months she’s been at CSC. She had mentioned Dockside at Green Lake, acquired by LIHI to convert quickly into affordable permanent housing; camp operator LIHI‘s Josh Castle said it’ll have almost 100 studio apartments. Move-ins will start “in a matter of weeks.” LIHI has more than 3,100 units of permanent affordable housing in six counties, Castle added. The rapid-acquisition program has been a game-changer, he said. “We hope to be able to do a lot more of that.” One more note from Johnson: Another case manager has yet to be hired but they have a prospect. When that person’s on board, they’ll be able to share the caseload.

CAMP NEEDS: Hygiene items, towels, blankets, pillows, socks, jackets, shoes are among the perennial needs, said Johnson. “We’re getting some of those things but we can always use more.” They’ve had a fair amount of turnover since the 24 new houses were added over the summer, and winter is coming, so it’s time to prepare. The “donation room” will be empty shortly as they transition the space they use to store donated items. The topic of a gift registry came back up – “makes it easy for us to give,” said committee member John Walling of nearby Arrowhead Gardens – and will be looked into.

CONCERNS: One attendee brought up a perennial issue, safety along Myers Way, as there’s no sidewalk for people and streetside fencing pushes pedestrians dangerously close to traffic. Committee member Grace Stiller observed that not only is it a safety issue but potentially a liability issue for adjacent property owners (primarily the City of Seattle). Stiller also brought up “derelict vehicles” that are parked near the camp but not officially on its site. She’s concerned not only about how it looks but also about people working on those vehicles, leading to vehicle-fluid runoff, especially problematic with creek headlands there that eventually feed into the Duwamish River.

KUDOS: Amazon sent volunteers to a Weed Warriors – Stiller’s environmental-stewardship nonprofit – project that removed invasives. “They did a fabulous job,” said Stiller. On Saturday, October 15th, for Orca Day, they’ll have an activity, 10 am-2 pm, at the Myers Way wetlands. LIHI’s Castle said the nonprofit gets lots of offers for volunteer groups to help out and they were glad to have something like that to occupy one group. “We really appreciate you hosting these volunteers.”

NEXT MEETING: They’re hoping the Community Advisory Committee can go back to second Tuesdays next month – online until further notice – so that date would be October 11th.

22 Replies to "CAMP SECOND CHANCE: Updates from West Seattle's only tiny-house encampment"

  • 1994 September 21, 2022 (9:48 pm)

    “One client – “one of our originals” – received an emergency-housing voucher and gave it back because “they’re making over 80 percent median income and don’t need the voucher any more.” “….so why are they continuing to live for free and off tax dollars that supply the tiny houses with a variety of resources?

    • WSB September 21, 2022 (10:41 pm)

      Sorry if I worded it badly, but the FORMER resident is now living elsewhere and paying rent, which is why they gave the voucher back.

      • Adam September 22, 2022 (7:06 am)

        It reads just fine, I got it when I read through it. Anyways, as much as I feel some programs to help the homeless may not be getting the results they seek, CSC has always impressed me and whenever my family has donations, my son makes sure we take them to CSC. He always remembers when we went there the first time to take some clothes, and the director at the time gave him a small painting painted by one of the ppl living there. It was so sweet, and he never forgot. We got a tour of the place (this was early in the program and it wasn’t nearly what it was today) and got to meet some residents. I’ll continue to support them as much as I can afford to. Hopefully this plus the LIHI will help the problem of chronic homelessness and keep our parks and sidewalks safe and clean. 

        • Jeepney September 22, 2022 (10:08 am)

          Agree with Adam.  I appreciate the coverage from WSB on Camp Second Chance, especially the success stories they have had.  The housing situation has been bungled by local government and a few other organizations, this one seems to have their priorities and leadership straight.

      • 1994 September 22, 2022 (8:45 pm)

        Thanks for clarifying! Today I read the 2021 median income for Seattle is $110,800. Sounds like the individual earning 80% of median income has moved forward and that is a good thing for them! Congrats to them!!

    • Smoosh September 22, 2022 (7:14 am)

      Even if they hadn’t moved on Negating your criticism I would ask are you just as likely to jump up and yell about peoples like Bezos and other corporate monsters using our infrastructure and not paying into the tax Purse in exchange?  Or do you only mistrust the disadvantaged?

    • Jon Wright September 22, 2022 (7:24 am)

      Well there’s an impressive display of compassion.

      • WS Res September 22, 2022 (11:28 am)

        Well, as Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and then allow people to mooch off him like a bunch of leeches?”

    • curious September 23, 2022 (10:14 pm)

      How does one go from homeless to making $80k?

      • WSB September 23, 2022 (11:36 pm)

        Homeless does not necessarily mean unemployed.

  • W. Seattle Renter September 22, 2022 (6:59 am)

    Thanks so much WSB! This is great reporting and I’m happy to see such positive news. If we wanted to send donations, where do we do so?

  • pjk September 22, 2022 (7:11 am)

     Are there specific days/hours when donations can be made?  I have personal hygiene items and more that I can donate.

  • DR September 22, 2022 (8:00 am)

    I agree.  Great reporting WSB!

  • KA September 22, 2022 (11:11 am)

    Yes, waiting to hear back when donations can be received…I have blankets, pillows, towels, jackets in great condition I would love to donate!

  • wsres September 22, 2022 (12:41 pm)

    This look into the good that this small house village is doing makes me more accepting of this type of help for the homeless and makes me proud that our city is finally getting something right!

  • RLV September 22, 2022 (12:50 pm)

    I didn’t know that we can donate to CSC, but would love to make it a regular routine. Please do share any info about how/where we can help.

  • WSB September 22, 2022 (1:15 pm)

    I’m asking.

  • Another One September 22, 2022 (2:06 pm)

    Does the church across the street do anything to support them? 

  • flimflam September 22, 2022 (3:05 pm)

    They need volunteer groups from Amazon to do weeding or was it a bigger project? Genuinely curious, please don’t jump all over me!

  • Julie Neilson September 22, 2022 (6:21 pm)

    Sharon Lee is doing a great job on these tiny house villages. I’ve never driven past and noticed garbage and piles of bikes like I see in other sanctioned encampments or shelter grounds. This one in particular seems well-run and organized. 

  • C2C support September 22, 2022 (7:13 pm)

    You can go up to there gates any day/time they have a “office ” right at the gate who ever is on duty would be more then happy to help you with any donations the residents there have been very gracious thankful and always helpful with answering any questions or helping of any kind nice seeing some of the people that get to benefit from your donations right in your own neighborhood 

  • WSB September 23, 2022 (10:43 am)

    Update for those who asked about donating: Contact Josh Castle at LIHI – josh.castle@lihi.org

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