Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

WHAT IS THE BLOCK PROJECT?

The BLOCK Project is a community building project for all, and a housing initiative for those living unsheltered. It invites community into the task of ending homelessness by placing a small home in the backyard of residential lots, with a vision to build one BLOCK Home on every residential block in Seattle. Many social injustices, including homelessness, are perpetuated through emotional and physical separation, which allows us to get stuck on the complexity of the issue. By literally saying, "Yes, in my backyard", we shift the paradigm. We bring relationship into the center of our lives and communities. The BLOCK Project represents an innovative leap forward on the issues of homelessness, cross-class integration, sustainable living, and architectural design. We believe it will nurture the compassion needed to power a grassroots movement to end homelessness.

WHAT IS FACING HOMELESSNESS?

Facing Homelessness began its journey in 2010, when founder Rex Hohlbein began meeting people living outside and inviting them into his architecture office for conversation. He shares that, "The negative stereotype against the homeless was not matching up to the beauty of those I was meeting." From those encounters, Rex began the Facing Homelessness Facebook page, sharing photos and stories of the people he was meeting. In 2013, what began as a passion project on social media took shape as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, powered by three staff and the compassion of community. To this day, Facing Homelessness honors a simple purpose: To invite all of us to come closer, and to contribute our unique passions and skills toward the effort of ending homelessness.

IS THIS LEGAL?

Yes! BLOCK Homes are permitted, off-grid structures that are classified as Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs). Per the code, single-family lots with a minimum of 4,000 square feet can accommodate a DADU up to 800 square feet. Allen Law Group, Davis Wright Tremaine, and Suzanne Skinner have developed contracts to lawfully define the responsibilities of all parties.

 

ARE DONATIONS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?

Yes! All donations can be made to Facing Homelessness, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  

EIN #: 46-2376967

 

HOW ARE RESIDENTS SELECTED AND SCREENED?

We work with service providers, such as Mary’s Place, Community Psychiatric Clinic, Chief Seattle Club, and The Sophia Way. Case managers from these agencies refer clients to the BLOCK Project and help them select a compatible Host based on transparent Host and Resident profiles. Persons with convictions of violent crime are not eligible to participate in the BLOCK Project.

 

IS THE BLOCK PROJECT PERMANENT OR TRANSITIONAL HOUSING?

The BLOCK Project is considered permanent housing, because there is no predetermined end-date for the resident’s occupancy. Each resident’s journey and duration of residency will be uniquely suited to meet their needs and the needs of the property owner. Some residents will live the rest of their lives in their BLOCK Home (our first resident is 75!), while others will use it as a springboard to the next step.

 

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HOST AND THE RESIDENT?

Hosts and Residents are neighbors and friends first. Both parties agree upon a customized code of conduct based on their specific needs and preferences. And, both Hosts and Residents enter into contractual agreements with Facing Homelessness.

 

WHO OWNS THE HOMES?

Facing Homelessness, a 501(c)(3) in Seattle, WA retains ownership of the BLOCK Homes.

 

IS THE BLOCK HOME RECORDED ON TITLE?

Our pilot project was built under the Backyard Cottages ordinance in Seattle.  Facing Homelessness is the owner and landlord of the BLOCK home as well as the developer which manages the permitting and construction.  We work with our homeowners to develop terms that are mutually beneficial while serving the needs of our clients experiencing homelessness.

 

DO RESIDENTS PAY RENT?

We anticipate that residents will pay rent on a sliding scale, based on income and length of residency. Rent paid to Facing Homelessness will support the construction of additional BLOCK Homes and cover maintenance costs of existing BLOCK Homes.

 

HOW MUCH DOES A BLOCK HOME COST TO BUILD, AND HOW ARE THEY FUNDED?

Material costs for BLOCK Homes range between $25,000 and $30,000. All construction labor for the first four homes is provided pro-bono by Turner Construction. This project is a grassroots initiative, funded entirely by compassionate community. Please donate!

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE HOUSE TO BE OFF-GRID?

BLOCK Homes are designed to be completely off-grid and self-sufficient, although some components will be phased in as permitting allowss. Rather than taking from “the system” and planet, BLOCK Homes give back. BLOCK Homes are designed to include:

  • Kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and living area, storage, & porch

  • Solar panels for all power needs

  • On-site water catchment & filtration

  • Greywater disposal system

  • Composting toilet

 

HAS THIS MODEL  BEEN DONE BEFORE?

Not to our knowledge! The BLOCK Project is an unprecedented model, powered wholly by the compassion of community and altruism of individuals. It is a grassroots, integrated, dignified, sustainable solution to homelessness.

 

DOES A HOST FAMILY HAVE TO AGREE TO A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME?

Hosts commit to a minimum lease term but  are encouraged to think of the BLOCK Home as a permanent fixture in their yard and lives. However, we know that extenuating circumstances and major life changes can arise unexpectedly, and the lease accounts for this. If a Host can no longer host a BLOCK Home, the BLOCK Home will be removed, and placed in a new prospective Host’s backyard.