Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) is tackling the housing crisis one tiny home at a time. Working alongside the Community Build Project, United Methodist Church, Bayside Housing, and the Jefferson County Commissioners, OlyCAP brought to life a village of twelve colorful tiny homes. The homes were created to provide temporary housing for vulnerable seniors in Jefferson County.
OlyCAP states that the aim of the project is to “keep twelve seniors safe, COVID-19 free, and to have transitioned into permanent housing at the end of the 12-month timeline.”
Director of Housing and Community Development, Kathy Morgan shared, “in our community we have very little housing, if any, available—especially affordable housing.” The tiny home village provides safe, dignified, and accessible housing options by centering the lived experience of vulnerable seniors. As the tiny home program was designed as a temporary living solution, the program assists residents in connecting with resources and support in finding the right long-term housing fit.
In Olympic Community of Health’s 2020 report, Transforming & Advancing the Social Determinants of Health in the Olympic Region, it is reported that “relative to WA state, unemployment is higher and public assistance income is more prevalent, and at the same time median household incomes are lower. Roughly 1/3 of households spend over 30% of their income on housing. There is an affordable housing shortfall and a small percentage of vacant homes in the region.”
In the graph below, regional partners ranked social risk factors that would have the greatest impact (horizontal axis), that are easiest to address (vertical axis), and that would benefit most from a regional response (circle size). Housing instability is consistently ranked to have the greatest impact yet stands out as being identified as one of the hardest social needs to address.
Despite the daunting challenge that housing poses, OlyCAP took an inspirational step forward in addressing the issue from a community-based approach. Morgan shared, “it is pretty overwhelming, so where do you start?” OlyCAP has seen initial success and positive embrace of the tiny home village as residents live side-by-side in harmony. OlyCAP is taking a gradual approach to better understand the challenges that come along with housing. The tiny home village is just a starting point that allowed them to build meaningful partnerships, make an impact in the community, and create movement in this important work. They have plans to expand the project and grow in scale and scope, “Our hope is if this is successful, we will be duplicating this in the community as a much broader short-term solution to our housing crisis,” said Morgan.
This project brought together county government, community-based organizations, faith-based communities, and health care providers to collectively tackle the issue of housing. “We met every week for three months,” shared Morgan. Each partner brings a unique skillset, perspective, and expertise. By combining these diverse skillsets, a huge challenge like the housing crisis, becomes a little bit more manageable.
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Olympic Community of Health (OCH) prioritizes community health needs by encouraging innovative collaboration across the Olympic region.