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Tacoma council approves tiny house village for the homeless

Tacoma will pay a Seattle non-profit $380,000 to open and operate a tiny house community for the homeless.

TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma will allow the construction of a tiny house community to help combat the city's homelessness crisis. 

The city council passed the resolution on Tuesday. 

Tacoma will pay a Seattle non-profit $380,000 to open and operate a 22-tiny house community for the homeless that can accommodate 35 people. 

Construction could start as early as Wednesday and would last about three to four weeks. 

Before the vote Tuesday, Dep. Mayor Conor McCarthy cut short the public comment period due to outbursts from the crowd: 

According to city data, 436 people are without housing and more than 120 are on the streets. 

Visual proof that the city's homeless population bursting at the seams can be found at People’s Park in Tacoma’s Hilltop Community.

“Sure, people should be able to live and have a place to live, but the city is allowing it to happen in certain neighborhoods and not other neighborhoods,” said resident Jim Knettel.

“Most of the people here are people that have been trying to fix their lives for 10 years or more. People that can’t fix their lives because they don’t have stability,” said a homeless man named Adar.

Tacoma's resolution was passed in an effort to establish emergency shelters at 802 Martin Luther King Jr. Way to address the concerns by the growing encampment at People's Park. 

The site would provide basic human amenities, including portable toilets, garbage services, handwashing stations and drinking water, according to the city. 

“Once you’re in that house, you can lock that door and you can go to sleep and you can go to work you can go to school,” said Sharon Lee of the Low Income Housing Institute.

RELATED: City of Seattle extends leases for several 'tiny house' villages

The Low Income Housing Institue is behind similar communities in Olympia and Seattle. 

If they got the green light in Tacoma, they promised to be up and running in one month. This comes as a public camping ban goes into effect in December. 

“The whole idea of a tiny house village is to get people to live for a very short time in a tiny house and get case managers on-site that will move them into long term housing,” Lee said.

But even if approved, those living at People's Park may be cleared out before they can benefit from the tiny houses.

When complete, the tiny house community will house 35 people.

“There’s nowhere if you’re homeless that you can go without getting harassed or ticketed or getting put it in jail,” Adar said. “We’re frustrated, everyone is frustrated." 

The City Council also extended the Declaration of State of Public Health Emergency to remain in effect until there is shelter availability for 95 percent of unsheltered individuals in Tacoma.

RELATED: Tacoma bans most tents, shelters from public parks