IMPACT

Teens Create Tiny Home Village For Seattle's Growing Homeless Population

04/08/2015 04:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015

Some Seattleites are challenging what's possible when it comes to the local fight against homelessness.

Nonprofit Sawhorse Revolution is the brainpower behind the Impossible City -- an "eco-village" being built for a homeless community in Seattle. The nonprofit -- which teaches local high school students carpentry so they can better engage and serve their communities -- is teaming young participants up with engineering, architecture and construction professionals for the project.

The effort will help Nickelsville, a local homeless community, by building personal and secure shelters for residents to sleep, a solar power hub that will allow for lighting and warm water at night, composting toilets and a community cook space for meal preparation.

Scroll to see renderings of a personal shelter, solar power hub, composting toilet and community cook space. Images courtesy of Sawhorse Revolution. (Story continues below.)
sawhorse revolution

solar power hub

sawhorse revolution toilet

sawhorse revolution cooking space

Seattle -- which now trails only New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in numbers of homeless individuals, according to NPR -- is grappling to curb a growing crisis. A point-in-time count in January found 3,772 people were living without shelter in King County (which encompasses Seattle) -- up 21 percent from the year before.

The figures reflect the city's failed attempt to end chronic homelessness in 10 years -- a goal it enacted about a decade ago.

Scroll to see students in action on The Impossible City project. (Story continues below.)
green house homeless
Photo: Sam Hunt

sam hunt homeless project
Photo: Sam Hunt

alec gardner homeless project
Photo: Alec Gardner

nate watters homeless project
Photo: Nate Watters

Part of Seattle's homelessness problem, NPR reported, is a lack of affordable housing.

"They need to quit trying to charge $1,300 a month for a 400-square-foot studio," Gary Eyerly, a homeless veteran, told the news source. "It's the Seattle gold rush. Go buy an old apartment building, put some new paint on it, triple the rent: 'Wow, I'm a millionaire.'"

It's a dire situation Sawhorse Revolution is aiming to alleviate by empowering Nickelsville residents. According to the nonprofit, formal encampments, like Nickelsville, improve chances that residents will secure stable homes for a variety of reasons -- one being that they allow residents to have a secure spot to store belongings, which is important when they need to go to work or to a job interview, for instance.

"We don't have any illusions about the Impossible City solving homelessness," Sarah Smith, the nonprofit's program director, said in the video above. "But what we can do is show our students that you can make a real difference in people's lives by reaching out, coming together with your community and helping shape something with your own hands."

The project has raised more than $23,000 of its $32,205 goal as of Wednesday. You can support the project by clicking below.

To help fight homelessness on a national scale, support PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) by using the Crowdrise widget below.

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  • 2 Cream cheese + hot dog = The Seattle Dog.
    It even has its own Wikipedia page. I mean, just ... come on now.
  • 3 The coffee is knock-out good. But it's NOT from Starbucks.
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    Don't even think about suggesting that Starbucks is the coffee of Seattle. (Or Seattle's Best, for that matter.) There's a little espresso drive-thru just about everywhere you turn. Or, if you're looking for a place to sit, check out Caffe Vita, Victrola, Caffe Ladro, or Vivace.
  • 4 Pike Place Market. Because, duh.
    This is a food lover's paradise (and a flower lover's paradise too). Sure, you can pick up a bounty of fresh produce and check off items on your grocery list, but you should also try the baked salmon sandwich at Three Girls, a bag of cinnamon sugar donuts from Daily Dozen Donuts, or crumpets and tea at The Crumpet Shop. Feeling overwhelmed by the copious options? Head to the Athenian and take a moment to gather your thoughts with the coldest beer in Seattle while watching The Seattle Great Wheel as the ferries come in.
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  • 11 The locals have fully embraced the farm-to-table movement.
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  • 21 Rachel’s Ginger Beer is everything.
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