East County Housing Solutions

In no county in America can a person working full time at a minimum wage job  afford an apartment...

In Snohomish Count you need to work 126 hours a week to afford a two bedroom apartment. That's why a group of concerned citizens and organizations have come together to form East County Housing Solutions and work toward creating a village of ultra-affordable home for our most vulnerable neighbors

We're working with SquareOne Villages in Eugene to help us create an ultra-affordable village of micro-homes.

The Need

According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, Snohomish County has over 52,000 low income families and only 12,000 subsidized housing units - we're short 40,000 affordable homes!

In Monroe, more than 50% of renter and home owner households are housing cost burdened - they pay more than 30% of their income for housing, making it unaffordable.

In 2017, a total of 11 new affordable housing units were created in Snohomish County.

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A Solution That Works

SquareOne began with Opportunity Village, a transitional tiny house village for their homeless neighbors. For about $100,000, Opportunity Village created 30 tiny homes. It costs about $5 per day per person to run and operate the village. In the first two years, 85 individuals transitioned through the village, 55 went on to find permanent housing with more than half finding jobs that provided enough income to afford market rate housing. Incredible!

SquareOne's next project was a village for extremely low income individuals and small families, Emerald Village. Eugene's architects and builder community came together to build the 22 houses - most at no cost to the residents.

Why Micro-Houses Make Sense

A typical low income apartment unit will cost in the $150,000 - 200,000 range to construct - for one unit!

Emerald Village homes are designed to cost less than $30,000 and most were donated.

Allowing for the cost of land and development, these 160 - 288 square foot homes rent for $250 to $350 peer month. And, $50 of each month's rent go to purchase an equity share in Emerald Village. Residents can accumulate up to a $1,500 share which they can "cash-out" if they ever leave the Village to help them into their next home.

Micro-Houses are Very Cool!

Each of the 22 Emerald Village homes includes sleeping and living areas, a kitchenette, and bathroom. The individual homes are supported by a common building that includes a gathering area, kitchen, laundry, restroom, and tool storage.

All of the residents are thoroughly vetted, together help create their Community Agreement, and all give time to the upkeep of the village.

What we need...you can help!

LAND - about one acre will do. If it's nice and level, and if it already has utilities like water, electric, and sewer to the property, it will be perfect.

LOCATION - many of our residents will not have a car. The property should be within about 1/4 mile of existing public transportation.

BUILD - we have a number of homes already committed. If you would like to learn more about building a Village Home, send us an email >

SPREAD THE WORD - tell everyone you know about what we're doing - this is important! We'll come to share with your family, your church, your community organization, your friends - email us and we'll set up a time.

donate to
our micro-house village fund

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join our micro-house newsletter

We promise not to fill up your inbox. You'll receive an email about once a month and maybe a few more announcing events and activities.
We will not share your information with anyone or any other organization.


Get Involved

You can be a part of exploring a micro-house community for our homeless neighbors here in Monroe:

Read our favorite books!

Andrew Heben traveled around the United States to visit and live in tent cities and tiny house villages as part of his Masters Degree in Urban Planning. This book is the result of his work. Though primarily aimed giving us an understanding of the needs of our homeless neighbors, It's a great read and full of helpful information. Andrew is SquareOne's Project Manager for Emerald Village. He liked it so much, he built his house there!

Available at Amazon.com

Two sociologist ethnographers spend time with the homeless of Birmingham, Alabama; living on the streets to discover that many of the programs and policies we have to in place to help the homeless actually drive them further from the services they need. Their examination of the causes and consequences of homelessness are revealing and thought provoking...our current systems only mask the symptoms and cannot bring an end to homelessness.

Available at Amazon.com


Resources and Case Studies

Opportunity Eugene: A Community Task Force on Homelessness Final Report and Recommendations
In 2012, the Mayor of Eugene OR appointed 58 people to a task force on Homelessness. This is their final report. It describes their process, meeting with concerned citizens, businesses, neighbors, first responders and city officials.  

Transitional Micro-Housing at Opportunity Village Eugene
A case study describing the permitting process, project details and background, the design/build process and cost/benefit analysis. From: http://www.ecobuilding.org/

Providing for the Unhoused: A Review of Transitional Housing Strategies in Eugene
An exhaustive study by the Community Planning Workshop of the University of Oregon looking at a wide range of strategies employed to address homelessness in Eugene OR. A wealth of information on understanding homelessness causes and barriers, city ordinances, case studies for several tent city and micro-house villages, and recommendation.

SquareOne Villages | Village Case Study Matrix
An overview of information for seven micro-house villages around the country including zoning, ,operating costs, building size and cost and more.