What is Quixote Village?

Quixote Village is a self-supporting community of 30 previously homeless adults. The Village consists of 30 tiny (144 sq. ft interior) cottages, and a community building that contains a shared kitchen, dining area, living room, showers, laundry, and office and meeting space.

The Village site is 2.17 acres, and includes space for a large vegetable garden and personal “door yard” gardens in front of each cottage.

The Village is staffed by two full-time staff: a Program Manager, who oversees operations and maintenance of the Village as well as the admissions process, and a Resident Advocate who acts as a case manager and supports residents in obtaining the social services they need to stabilize and improve their lives.

The Village was developed and is supported by Panza, a 501C3 non-profit organization.

What is Panza?

Panza is a 501C3 non-profit organization that mobilized community support for Camp Quixote, oversaw development of Quixote Village, and now supports the ongoing operation of the Village.   Panza is named for Sancho Panza, the servant of Don Quixote in the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.

Panza is the legal owner and landlord for the Village. Panza seeks to maintain a cooperative partnership with the Village Resident Council, which includes all Village residents.  The Resident Council’s elected leaders attend monthly Panza meetings, and representatives from Panza attend weekly Resident Council meetings.

Panza organizes community volunteers, raises funds, hires and supports staff, and acts as liaison with federal, tribal, state and local governments, foundations, and community organizations

How can I apply for residence at the Village?

  • The Village is currently full. To get on our wait list,  please contact Sidewalk at (360)515-5587.
  • In general, the admission process will include an initial interview with Sidewalk and Village staff to determine eligibility, followed by an interview with the Resident Council’s Executive Committee and an opportunity to meet Village residents.
  • Background checks are required; residents may not have outstanding warrants or a recent history of violence or theft, and may not be sex offenders.
  • Village residents are expected to be clean and sober; urine analysis may occur.

Who built the Village, and why?

  • In February, 2007, a homeless camp was established in a downtown Olympia parking lot to protest a city ordinance that forbade sitting or lying on a sidewalk.  When police threatened to break up the camp, a local church offered campers sanctuary on their grounds.
  • Camp residents established their own code of conduct and elected their own leaders.  The Camp included about 30 homeless adults.
  • From the very beginning, the founders of Camp Quixote hoped to find land to build a village for themselves, consisting of tiny cabins and a shared building that would house showers, laundry, and cooking facilities.
  • For the next six plus years, the camp moved from one church parking lot to another every three to six months under the terms of an ordinance that regulated it.
  • Panza, a non-profit organization, was created to support the camp in 2008.  Panza and the camp’s Resident Council worked together to build Quixote Village.
  • Camp Quixote residents left their tents behind and moved into the Village on December 24, 2013.

What did the Village cost to build?

  • The total cost to build the entire Village was $3.05 million.  (This includes all development costs, infrastructure, materials, labor, the community building, permits, fees, required road improvements, donated land and services etc.)
  • The cost for each cottage was about $19,000.
  • Thurston County leased us the land for $1 a year for 41 years. (The value of the land is about $333,000.)
  • We had substantial donated services from our architect, our civil engineer, and others.
  • If we divide the total cost of the Village, including donated land and services, by the number of cottages, then the cost per unit would be $101,567 per unit.  In comparison, the average cost for studio apartments for low-income people is about $200,000 per unit.
  • However, what we actually PAID for the Village was just under $88,000 per unit, because we didn’t have to buy the land or pay full price for some high-value services such as architecture and engineering.

Where did the money come from?

  • $1.5 million in the state capital budget, which came through the state Department of Commerce’s Housing Trust Fund
  • $699,000 from federal Community Development Block Grant funding that came through Thurston County and the City of Olympia
  • $170,000 in Thurston County funding from state document recording fees
  • $215,000 in community donations, including the Nisqually and Chehalis Tribes, the Boeing Employees’ Fund, and individual donors

How did Panza and Camp Quixote raise the money?

The local ordinances that regulated Camp Quixote required that volunteers staff a “host desk” to control entry into the Camp and ensure safety.  This meant that over the years, hundreds of faith community members and others who served as volunteers got to know people who were homeless.  It was a transformative experience for everyone, volunteers and Camp residents alike, most of whom had been strangers to each other before.

The result was a remarkable coalition.  When 100 or more people from diverse faith communities and 30 people living in tents packed city council meetings, council members took notice.  This coalition was further strengthened by the support of local environmentalists who welcomed the idea of tiny house development.

The Thurston County Commission was an early supporter of the Village idea, and saw it as a promising model for affordable, sustainable housing.  Their early commitment of land for the Village was an important first step towards raising the money to build it.

Camp residents and Panza members testified in support of a state capital budget appropriation and won a $1.5 million commitment from the state.  Once we had that first big commitment, others followed.

Panza hired Community Frameworks, a non-profit low-income housing development agency based in Bremerton, Washington, to guide us through the complex processes involved in government grant applications and funding, and to manage the construction financing.

The keys to our fundraising success were:

  • Residents of the Camp proved they were capable of self-government, and over time they built a great  reputation for the Camp as a good neighbor and an asset to the community.
  • Hundreds of people who volunteered at the Camp were willing to show up at public meetings to show their support.
  • Camp residents were willing to speak at public meetings, legislative hearings, and in media interviews alongside their allies.
  • Our coalition grew to include the local environmental movement, and many other interested community members.
  • We are very blessed to live in a progressive, generous community with elected leaders who helped and supported us.
  • Community Frameworks did a great job for us and was an essential part of our team.

The Village is a Self-Supporting Community

Camp Quixote – a tent camp for homeless adults – was founded on a tradition of self-governance in 2007.  The first residents established a simple code of conduct that all residents agreed to live by.

In the six plus years of the Camp’s existence, residents interviewed and voted on whom to admit to the Camp, and when to expel someone who didn’t follow the rules.  They also elected leaders every six months, and the leaders assigned chores, collected dues of $20 a month and managed Camp funds to provide supplies. Over time, it was established that the supporting nonprofit, Panza, would not interfere with the internal governance of the Camp unless (1) the Camp asked it to, or (2) there was evidence that the Camp was not following its own rules.

When Panza developed and built Quixote Village, it took on the legal responsibilities of a landlord under state law.  Village staff now manage the admissions process and, with the advice of the Village Resident Council and its elected Executive Committee, have final say in selection of new residents and the outcome of rules violations.  All residents pay 30% of their income (minimum $50/month) in rent and sign a lease agreement with Panza that includes clearly stated rules of conduct.  Some of these rules reflect those established in Camp Quixote as well as those written by the Resident Council and its leaders.  Others have been developed by Panza and are directed towards maintaining the Village facilities and ensuring that the requirements of our funders and insurers are met.  A third set were written jointly by the Resident Council and Panza and apply to their cooperative efforts to ensure successful operation of the Village community.

All Village residents meet in the Resident Council once a week, and they and their elected leaders are assisted by Village staff in overseeing resident responsibilities for maintaining public spaces, such as the community building, landscaping and the community garden. The Executive Team meets once a week with staff to set the agenda for the Council meeting and to discuss emerging issues and proposed activities and events.