Tiny Homes Could Help Solve Region’s Ever-Growing Need for Affordable Housing


Thousands of people attended the Great American Tiny House Show at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup earlier this month. 

Inside the showroom, people huddled into one of nearly two dozen or so tiny houses, gazing at interior decorations and talking with builders. 

Some consider tiny houses because of their size and ecological footprint. Others consider purchasing tiny houses because of the cost. Some just want the freedom to hitch up their house and travel anywhere in the country. 

But many say the tiny house craze that has put Pacific Northwest builders on the map may be a fitting alternative to help solve the Puget Sound’s ever-growing need for housing. 

Second District Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, attended the show, which ran from Aug. 2 through Aug. 3, and said he saw amazing innovation from builders mostly based in Oregon and Washington state. 

“I saw incredible innovation in the use of space, in the use of building materials to build a product that is a small home that could be occupied by one or two people, and it has everything you need to live,” he said. “The biggest thing is that it’s another option in the affordable housing spectrum that is needed. It’s another way that we can get people into homes.” 

While there hasn’t yet been a tiny house community established in Southeast Thurston County, Barkis said he’s hoping state legislators will pick up the need for small housing communities and accessory dwelling units. 

“Not just in the cities, but in the country so that people can have that flexibility,” said Barkis, a member of the state Community Housing Committee, among others. 

Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, led the charge in passing Senate Bill 5383, Barkis said, which recently went into effect. 

The bill allows cities and counties to permit tiny house villages and recognizes the use of tiny houses as a primary residence within mobile home communities. 

While accessory dwelling units have caught most of the attention with legislation in recent years, especially within urban areas, Barkis said it’s important to consider both as feasible options to continue advocacy for. 

“We need to be open to change and new ideas because it’s important,” he said.


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