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Are tiny houses on wheels yet another tactic in Seattle’s homeless crisis?

KENT, Wash. Seattle city councilmember Mike O'Brien toured a Kent startup called "Close to Home" on Friday, which creates tiny homes on wheels.

CEO and founder Rachel Stamm, says these homes are different than your typical RV or trailer.

“It’s been built with materials you might find in a $1 million home,” she said. “The same type of materials, same type of engineering. It just happens to not have a foundation – it’s on wheels.

“It’s a fully permittable house. It’s got electrical, plumbing, a kitchen, a bathroom, shower, all those things, all the amenities. But it’s just a couple hundred square feet, and it’s very affordable.”

O’Brien says he wants the city budget to include a grant for a temporary housing pilot program  to help buy tiny homes like these, which he says are a way to help those in need.

“The city could grant up to $25,000 per, and so for a model like this, if say a church wanted to come together and host one or two of these, we would provide a 50 percent match and they would raise the other 50 percent,” he said.

O'Brien says each house can be purchased as a kit and costs about $50,000.

“We could see the types of people that live in them and thrive and those that don’t, and from that we can say, hey, you know what, we think there’s possibility to take what is working for a couple people to a couple hundred and what might that look like,” he said.

O’Brien say the plan is still being worked out.

“Right now, you could not put one of these in your driveway cuz their not permitted so we would have to see if we could do some work to see if that could happen,” he said.

He says the city would only be investing if people were making commitments to make sure these homes would be rented at an affordable level, and the focus would likely be on people who are at risk of becoming homeless, like seniors on a fixed income or those who used to be homeless.

Unlike tiny house villages, O'Brien says these structures are more like mini cottages and would either stand alone on a property or lot, or be paired up with another cottage on a property.

“This alone is not gonna solve 10,000 people that are homeless, but if it can be two percent or five percent, pretty soon we’ll find the solutions making significant differences,” he said.