Submitted by Thurston County
Residents have begun to move into Franz Anderson Tiny Home Village. Over the next several weeks, more new residents will be moving from some of the homeless encampments along Interstate 5.
In 2022, Thurston County partnered with the City of Olympia to purchase 5.9 acres of land on Franz Anderson Rd. with American Rescue Plan Act funding.
The Franz Anderson Tiny Home Village has 50 tiny homes to serve as temporary residence for previously unhoused adults. The village is operated by Olympia Mutual Aid Partners (OlyMAP) and offers onsite services including case management, mental health and substance use support, and employment navigation. The site offers 24/7 staff support, daily meals, hygiene facilities, and a community space.
Last year, the state identified five counties, one of which is Thurston County, that have encampments on the Washington State Department of Transportation’s rights of way. “Rights of way,” in this context, refers to the highways and freeways that the state oversees. The Rights of Way Initiative (ROW) provides funding to these counties with the goal to move people living on ROW sites into better living situations and permanently clear these encampments.
“This project is the result of a strong partnership among local governments, service providers, and experts in affordable housing. Staff from the Olympia Public Works Department and our Housing and Homelessness Response team worked together tirelessly to ensure this project would be a success.” said Dani Madrone, Member of the Regional Housing Council and Olympia City Council Member. “We’re grateful for the partnership with OlyMap, who will provide continuity of care with their onsite support for the residents of Franz Anderson.”
At this time, housing at Franz Anderson Tiny Home Village is solely offered through the coordinated outreach to people living at the ROW encampments. Olympia Mutual Aid Partners (OlyMAP) is partnered with the City of Olympia to lead these ongoing outreach efforts to those living on ROW properties.
The long-term plan for the Franz Anderson property is to build to permanent supportive housing in two to four years.
“It’s not enough to only respond to the immediate crisis of homelessness. As a region, we need to develop long-term permanent housing solutions for our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Carolina Mejia, Thurston County Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Regional Housing Council. “Thurston Regional Housing Council is committed to regional collaboration and long-term solutions.”