Reader view: Building a tiny house to serve those in need

Lynnwood Rotarian Debbie Bodal sent this report regarding the volunteer work that she and others did May 15 building a tiny house as part of a Rotary District 5030 community service project.

Bodal was joined by her husband Trond Bodal, an Emerald City Rotarian; and Diane Cohn, age 89, and her husband Jerry, age 94.

“The Tiny House Program is housed in the Low Income Housing Institute on Nevada Street in South Seattle. Diane and I painted the inside of three tiny houses while Jerry and Trond made 14 roof gables that will be used to build seven houses. Each house will have 60 homeless people living in it over its 20-year life span. That equates to taking 420 people off the streets.

“Diane and I were so impressed with the process of building the houses, anyone can volunteer to help make a difference. Each house costs $4,500 to build all through donations. Lowe’s donates 90% of the building supplies. Rotary clubs or individuals can sponsor a house and build it as a community service project or a birthday celebration.

“After working, several of us were able to visit the newest Tiny House Village in South Rainier Beach. The village had 45 tiny houses with a community kitchen, bathrooms and laundry facility that also had a community space for meetings, games and library. The residents share the food that they are able to purchase or that have been donated.”

According to Bodal, the Low Income Housing Institute is one of the largest providers of tiny house village shelters in the nation, ensuring that people’s experience in homelessness is as safe, dignified and brief as possible. It is operated in partnership with the cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia, and with faith communities and building trade organizations throughout the state of Washington.

“Tiny houses offer tremendous benefits over tents – they are safe, weatherproof, and lockable – and the communities that we help build allow residents to reclaim their dignity and get on a path to housing in a supportive village environment,” she added.

Each tiny house has electricity, overhead light and a heater. Each tiny house village has kitchen and restroom facilities, onsite showers and laundry, a counseling office, and a welcome/security hut where donations of food, clothing and hygiene items can be dropped off.

To contact the Tiny House program, email

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