By Puyallup Tribal News Staff


Historically the Puyallup people would live amongst each other in a village. The village would be community-based, working together for the greater good of the people.


They were fed by land and sea, salmon, clams, nuts, roots, wild game, berries, and cedar to build housing and transportation. This would allow for people to live healthily and harmoniously without any worries.


There is an old saying, “when the tides were out, the table was spread.” This community-based project will put into action the phrase “it takes a village” as a way to uplift tribal members who struggle to find affordable housing.


Today, with COVID-19 causing massive unemployment numbers, many Tribal Members lack a safe and secure spot to remain healthy.


“We are healing the effects of the genocide,” said Culture Director, Connie McCloud. “Whole villages were intentionally killed or killed by disease. We continue to pick up the pieces of the harm from the forced removal from our homes and home land. Our children were forced to go to boarding schools and then forcefully removed from our homes. Healing can continue for our community, by providing a safe and welcoming space. ”


The Puyallup Tribe of Indians has begun planning for a tiny house village that would serve Tribal members experiencing homelessness.


“I think these will be the perfect opportunity for transitional housing in our community,” said Wrap Around Services Program Manager Shannel Janzen.


“The tiny home village will give people the opportunity to have a safe place to heal, have a roof over their head, a place to lock up their belongings, have their basic needs met, participate in cultural activities, and have support staff 24/7 to help them meet their needs,” said Janzen.


The Tribe partnered with the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) for the project, which was made available through the federal CARES Act, because homelessness puts people at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.


“LIHI is deeply honored to be doing this work, in partnership with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, to help bring Puyallup tribal members indoors and into a safe and supporting community,” said LIHI Tiny House Special Projects Manager,” Bradford Gerber. “Our hope is to develop a tiny house village for Tribal members over the coming months that can serve as a place of rest, and that the space can recharge people with what they need to find success,” said Gerber.


The village will be located at 2027 E Wright Street in Tacoma. It will serve up to 35 Tribal members 18 and older, including individuals, couples, veterans, seniors, students, and people with pets.


“One of the positive historical significances of this project is its proximity to one of our ancestral village sites, said Assistant Director/THPO Historic Preservation Brandon Reynon.


“Our oral history always told us we had a village in this area. In 2009, 2013, 2015, and 2020 construction projects have uncovered just how large this ancestral village was, and I’m glad to see we’ll be having housing return to this site to care for our members,” said Reynon.


The site will include up to 30 tiny houses and a community kitchen, hygiene facilities, case management, and 24/7 staffing. Each tiny house is 8 feet by 12 feet, is insulated, and has heat, electricity, and a locking door.


Puyallup Tribal Member Ron Wrolson, who is a senior project manager in the Tribe’s Construction Services department, recently had a chance to visit two existing tiny home sites in Tacoma.


He said the site visits made him a believer in the program.


“When the world is so expensive now, for a Tribal Member to have an opportunity to come out of a difficult place, I think these homes are the answer to start tackling the problem,” Wrolson said. “To get people to a point to lock on and see the hand that is lifting them, it’s something we can build on.”


“The staff and cultural team will really wrap their arms around the residents of the village to help them achieve their goals. I am so thankful for all the departments who have come together to make this dream a reality,” said Janzen


Want to help?


There will be multiple volunteer work parties to set up the site, which will include painting, construction, and beautification. If you are interested in volunteering or donating, please email tinyhouses@lihi.org.


Need help?


To inquire about the referral process of Tribal Members experiencing homelessness, please contact the Puyallup Tribe Wrap Around Program by calling 253-382-6219 or 253-310-1855 or by emailing WrapAroundProgram@puyalluptribe-nsn.gov.


Caption info: Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has partnered with numerous groups to build tiny house villages in Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia. Pictured are examples of LIHI’s Georgetown, True Hope and Lake Union Villages, all of which are in Seattle. LIHI has partnered with the Puyallup Tribe to build a tiny home village that will provide shelter and resources for homeless Tribal Members.


Photos courtesy of LIHI