Neighbors in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood, concerned about plans to build a tiny village to fight the city's homeless crisis, voiced their opposition at a community meeting Thursday night.
The proposed village would be on city-owned property at 8th Avenue and Aloha Street. The proposal calls for 54 new tiny homes to be built at the site.
Some people told the city they opposed the site, and some said they'd be more comfortable if it was a clean and sober encampment.
"I will not feel safe walking my dog at night," one woman said at the meeting.
Even those who have struggled with homelessness themselves are split on the idea. Becky Britt-Brizzee and her husband, Leo, attended the meeting to show their support.
"We came into Seattle in 2016. We stayed under the Ballard Bridge. It was getting cold at that time," said Leo.
Leo says they met people with the Nickelsville homeless encampment and were given a place to stay. Since then, they have lived in tiny houses and credit the shelter for keeping them warm this past winter.
"It saves lives mostly," Leo said about the villages.
Jason Paulus has a different take.
"I was living on the streets of Seattle," Paulus said.
While Paulus has a history of homelessness, he does not support the South Lake Union tiny village proposal.
"You don't fix addiction just by putting people in a house where they can continue to use drugs. That's the problem here, the addiction," said Paulus.
Paulus is concerned because the city does have low barrier tiny houses, where people can use alcohol and do drugs inside their home.
It's a concern another man raised at the meeting.
"People in that low barrier camp are allowed to shoot heroin and they are shooting heroin and they're getting free needles from people inside the camp," he said.
Paulus was able to get sober a couple years ago. He got a job and moved out of homelessness and into the South Lake Union neighborhood.
"I'm afraid that is going to come to my neighborhood, and to be quite honest, I'm a little bit afraid for my own sobriety," said Paulus.
The city says village is not a done deal and that public comments would be taken into consideration first. Decisions are still being made about whether it should be built at 8th and Aloha, and if drugs and alcohol would be allowed.
The village would have 24-hour security with restricted access. There would be a common kitchen, bathroom, and showers. The city says on-site services including housing search support and medical resources would be available.
Leo and Becky want to see more tiny homes because they say people need help.
"It is sad to see them out here," said Becky referring to the people living on the streets. "We used to be one of them too."
King County on Thursday announced an overall four percent increase of people experiencing homelessness in the annual one-night count.