Our Lady of the Lake parishioners build a tiny house for the homeless

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
Bob Stein (left), Brian Engel, Joe Demarte, Craig Davis and Dale Hoff spend a July weekend working on the tiny house that Our Lady of the Lake parishioners are building for the homeless. Photo: Courtesy David Brezynski Bob Stein (left), Brian Engel, Joe Demarte, Craig Davis and Dale Hoff spend a July weekend working on the tiny house that Our Lady of the Lake parishioners are building for the homeless. Photo: Courtesy David Brezynski

SEATTLE – A group of justice-minded volunteers at Our Lady of the Lake Parish dedicated part of their weekends in July to build a “tiny house” for a homeless person.

“There’s such a great need for any kind of solution to homelessness in Seattle. This seems like a great first step,” said parishioner Janet Bester-Meredith, who hammered nails and painted primer on the house one weekend.

More than 30 parishioners helped build the 8-foot-by-12-foot insulated wooden structure, said David Brezynski, a member of the parish’s justice and peace committee who organized the building effort. The compact building — big enough for a bed, table and chair — features a pair of windows, a door and a small porch with an overhang.

A tiny house is meant to be a secure, temporary home for someone transitioning into permanent housing.

“I think a tiny house is better than a tent on the sidewalk,” said volunteer Craig Davis, a third-generation Our Lady of the Lake parishioner who has worked in the construction business for 40 years.

OLL Tiny HouseBob Stein and Tina Paniel install sheathing on a wall of a tiny house that will provide transitional housing for homeless members of the community. The structure is being donated to the Low Income Housing Institute, which will add it to one of its tiny house villages in Seattle. Photo: Courtesy David Brezynski

The completed structure will be donated to the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute, which will add it to one of its seven villages in Seattle. Each village has 25 to 30 tiny houses, built by various organizations; over the course of a year, more than 1,000 people have lived in the structures, said Aaron Long, the institute’s communications specialist.

Brezynski got his parish involved after talking with his neighbor, Dale Hoff, about the frustration surrounding Seattle’s homeless problem. “You talk about it, but you can’t do much about it,” Brezynski said.

It turned out that Hoff was building tiny houses (he aims to complete a dozen this year), and Brezynski thought Our Lady of the Lake could help the effort.

Parish volunteers began building their tiny house June 30, working four to five hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays. Neighbors of the parish had a chance to see the home’s progress during July’s Wedgewood Arts Festival, held on the grounds of Our Lady of the Lake School. The house should be finished August 4, in time for an open house August 5.

“It’s one way we are trying to inspire people to help,” said Lorraine Hartmann, who chairs the parish’s justice and peace committee.

OLL Tiny HouseOur Lady of the Lake Parish’s tiny house takes shape with the help of Janet Bester-Meredith (left), Ken Yu, Tina Paniel, Dale Hoff, Charles Meredith and Bob Stein. Photo: Courtesy David Brezynski

Our Lady of the Lake parishioners have “always had a commitment to the marginalized and the poor,” said Father Tim Clark, who has been pastor since 2004.

Besides the tiny house project, the parish helped the homeless by hosting a winter shelter in February, with help from Assumption and St. Bridget parishes. More than 100 families from Our Lady of the Lake Parish volunteered to help out.

“That has personalized the face of homeless for us,” Hartmann said.

See the finished tiny house

Our Lady of the Lake Parish will celebrate completion of its volunteer-built tiny house on Sunday, August 5.

After the 9:30 a.m. Mass, the structure will be blessed by Father Tim Clark, Lady of the Lake’s pastor. An open house will follow.

The parish is located at 8900 35th Ave. N.E., Seattle.