Seattle Wants to Increase Affordable Housing, but Its Rules Are Hard on Tiny Houses Like This One

tiny house Seattle

Leila Ali lives in a tiny house. It’s 13 feet tall and sits on wheels in a Ballard backyard. A garden hose running from the backyard’s main house pumps water to the sink, and an extension cord from the same house provides electricity. The 130-square-foot structure leaves almost no footprint otherwise, much of that thanks to a composting toilet stuffed with cacao husks.

“I have a vanilla air freshener, so the bathroom kind of smells like Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory,” Ali says.

Followers of the tiny house movement see living the way Ali does as a minimalist’s answer to modern wastefulness. For Ali, it’s also a pragmatic answer to Seattle’s housing crisis. For $400 a month in rent, most of which goes to the inhabitants of the main house, Ali can live reasonably in Seattle while trying to launch a new business selling purikura, stylized photo booth experiences that are all the rage in Japanese arcades.

Or she could live reasonably, at least for a while. Last week, after 19 months in the tiny house, Ali learned that the city was evicting her tiny house from the main house’s backyard.

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