Thursday, October 15, 2020

Tiny House Communities in Washington Turning to Modular Construction

The West Coast seems to be the testing ground for a lot of new types of housing and tiny house communities in Washington have a good chance of becoming a national trend.

The exterior of the tiny house in Carriage Houses NW’s production facility was painted a pale green, the interior still the color of unfinished wood. The house was propped up, elevated from the floor of the warehouse. When the home is installed in Orting Veteran’s Village, it will be flush with the ground, explained Executive Director Jaycie Osterberg of nonprofit housing developer Quixote Communities as she toured the facility, shooting a video for her Facebook audience.

“Everything’s not set yet, so it’s still kind of bare bones,” Osterberg said as she entered the unit, giving people a glimpse at where a formerly homeless veteran will one day live. When the home is completed, it will have everything necessary for a comfortable existence except a kitchen — those facilities will be provided in a community room that will be constructed separately.



Orting Veteran’s Village will be a bit different from previous Quixote Communities projects, which have been constructed on site. Orting, by contrast, is a modular development, built in the Carriage Houses Northwest facility, transported to the site and installed right there.

The 35 tiny homes, each measuring roughly 176 square feet, will provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans, a population that has been swelling after years of targeted attempts to get them into housing. The homes are a bit different than the tiny houses Seattleites are familiar with. These units resemble manufactured homes because they cost roughly $30,000 to make and are designed as relatively inexpensive housing meant to last for decades.


Quixote Communities is one of several organizations vying for money through a Washington State Department of Commerce program for modular housing, an innovative model meant to help solve the state’s crushing affordable housing shortage.


Modular units are cheaper than “stick built” developments, which are constructed on site, and provide privacy while also allowing people to live in community and access services. Cost was a key factor in Quixote Communities’ decision to go the modular route, Osterberg said, but the villages also allow the nonprofit to offer low-barrier, permanent supportive housing with services.


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