It was moving day Tuesday at Othello Village tent city in southeast Seattle. But there were no moving boxes or vans in sight. The new residents arrived with their few belongings in bins.
Seleima Silikula, 34, and her son Tiui, 5, were among them. They moved into one of eight tiny houses on the lot.
The blue and green tiny house was built by Lawrence Willis and his students at Seattle Vocational Institute. It’s simple and spare.
As the Sikikulas took a look around, Willis pointed behind the door. “We have our coatrack,” he said proudly. “Oh, wow!” Silikula responded. “The little luxuries of life. Thank you kindly.”
The house is not much bigger than a closet, but Silikula is thankful. Her previous home was a tent in another encampment.
“Even if it means coming out from a camp to another camp," she said. "But [it's] indoors, as opposed to water droplets dropping on you in the morning.”
Silikula became homeless last September. It started when she lost her job at a bed and breakfast inn and couldn’t pay rent. Ever since then, she said, she’s been in survival mode.
“There’s no thinking, just going. You’re on the go,” she said. “And you don’t think about how hard it is, you just think about what can I do to make it possible.”
Silikula is one of three families to move to Othello Village on Tuesday. The encampment is on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, near the Othello light rail station. It’s the third city-sanctioned encampment for homeless families.
Silikula said having a roof over their heads means much more than shelter. “It means that we’re on the right path again to getting back on our feet. And the possibility is endless.”
For now, she said she wants to bask in the moment and the relative warmth of her new home.