The Tiny House Village Holding a Family Together

A tiny house complex in Seattle shows what it can do for homeless families by helping one couple raise their baby together under one (very small) roof.

All photos by Viola Gaskell.

The village

Last year, Seattle built its first tiny house village as part of a citywide effort to address the growing homelessness crisis. All residents have a case worker assisting them in the search for permanent housing in the Seattle area. Residents Jessica Gudor and Scott Marsh went from separation and homelessness to parenting together in their tiny house. “The goal is to get a steady job,” Marsh says, “so I can get put on the serious list that would allow us to get a place and truly be OK. Right now, we’re just really happy to be raising our baby together.”

Daytime security

Gudor sits with her 6-month-old daughter on a security shift, signing visitors in and out of the tiny house village in Seattle’s Central District. Gudor moved into their tiny house from a hotel in Auburn, Washington, where she had been living with her baby girl. Her partner, Marsh, lived in an encampment in Seattle to be close to his temp work. The hotel was costing them approximately $250 per week. Now, the couple pays only $90 a month.

Father and daughter

After months in separate temporary living spaces, Marsh plays with his daughter at their new home. Neither he nor Gudor had very a happy childhood, he says. “We think it would be amazing to raise a kid who is happy and is raised by people who love her and who love each other—a loving home. Neither one of us knows that.” He is now working five to six days a week with a temp agency that pays well over minimum wage, and he is in the process of applying to be a member of a carpenters union to obtain a job as a journeyman that would start at $44 an hour.

Safe eggs

Tenants keep their perishables outdoors now that they have indoor heat in their new homes. Gudor must protect her food—but not from people. “The only thing we really have to worry about is the raccoons and the squirrels getting at our food that is outside,” she says. “That’s why I have my eggs in a plastic container. The squirrels were trying to get them this morning.” The village’s shared kitchen is stocked primarily with food from a food bank and coupon-bought goods.

A new home

Poor credit and Marsh’s criminal record made it nearly impossible for Marsh and Gudor to obtain an apartment before. Now, they can raise their child together and find the stability they need to move forward. Marsh isn’t counting on the carpenters union: “That would be a ridiculous thing to do to your heart.” Still, he’s certain his family will figure it out. “Being with them is what I want,” he says. “I don’t ever want to not be with them again.”

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