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Two organizations fighting homelessness are setting up shop in a Harbor Island warehouse

Space provided by King County gives the Block Project and Humble Design room to work—and the public space to help out

A small, modern home under construction.
A Block Project home under construction.
Courtesy of King County

A surplus King County warehouse will go toward providing housing and furnishings directly to people who need it—and make it easier for the public to pitch in and help out.

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced the two partnerships late last week. The Block Project, which builds backyard cottages for housing those without housing, and Humble Design, which collects gently used furniture and other household items for families exiting homelessness, will both be given warehouse space on Harbor Island.

Then, starting this spring, community members will be able to swing by, making the donation process easier—and giving extra space for those that want to lend a hand in constructing the cottages.

Once the cottages are constructed, they become accessory dwelling units in someone’s backyard, allowing community members to provide direct support to those who need housing and engaging whole neighborhoods—blocks, as it were—in fighting homelessness. The first Block home was constructed in a Beacon Hill backyard this past fall.

Rex Hohlbein, founder and creative director for both Facing Homelessness and the Block Project, said the model “provides our community a direct path for ending homelessness,” and that this partnership “model[s] the collaborative approach needed to bring people off our streets and into healthy community.”

The warehouse on Harbor Island.
Courtesy of King County

While the Block Project focuses on giving people an actual structure to live in, Humble Design focuses on the inside.

After spending time in shelters, in cars, or in tents, most families don’t have many household items left—it’s impractical to cart around a full set of dishes, much less a sofa. So Humble Design collects items from the community, then works with people transitioning out of homelessness to match them with items that are a good fit by “shopping” in its warehouse space.

The organization has programs up and running in Detroit, Dearborn, and Chicago. The warehouse space provided by King County will allow them to start operations—“turning empty houses into warm, welcoming, fully furnished homes,” said co-CEO Rob Strasberg—in the Seattle area.

Mary’s Place, which provides assistance to families experiencing homelessness, will be referring families to both organizations.