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Tiny homes may be a step closer to reality in Washington

Flickr Creative Commons/Sightline Institute/Mark McClure

The state House approves a bill allowing tiny house communities inside urban growth boundaries.

Discussions about how to create more affordable housing often focus on multi-family structures, including townhouses. But the Washington legislature is working on a path to another form of smaller, less expensive housing.

The Washington House voted 97-to-one Friday to allow municipalities to authorize the building of tiny home communities. They’re kind of like mobile home parks, but comprised of structures a few hundred square feet and smaller. These homes are seen as potential options for first-time home buyers or for people who have nowhere else to live.

Olympia Republican Andrew Barkis says he likes the idea of lifting barriers to tiny home developments.

“We run into objections of where certain developments can be sited. A lot of times when we deal with homelessness, these type of projects, it becomes a problem, so I’m encouraged that this bill has come forth," he said.

A provision that would have allowed tiny home communities to be built outside of cities’ urban growth boundaries was stripped from the bill. Still, the lead sponsor, Rep. Bob McCaslin [R-Spokane Valley] voted for it and says it could help to play a small role in creating more affordable housing in Washington. The measure next is headed to the state Senate.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.