Who manages Quixote Village?

The Village is supported by Panza, a 501C3 non-profit organization.  (Panza is named for Sancho Panza, the servant of Don Quixote in the Cervantes novel.) We have three full time staff: An Executive Director, Program Manager, and Case Manager/Resident Advocate. We also have an Accountant to help with the books.

What model do you use?

  • We use the Recovery Housing Model, which provides a drug and alcohol free living environment for people in all stages of recovery.
  • We are also Permanent-Supportive Housing. Permanent, as in people can stay as long as they want and supportive, with staff and peer mentorship.

How do you apply to live at Quixote Village?

  • Quixote Village is currently full.  Please contact Sidewalk at the Community Care Center downtown at 225 State Ave NE (360) 515-5587 to get on our wait list. They are open Monday through Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm. If you are in urgent need of housing please call the Housing Hotline at 1-844-628-7343 for local resources.
  • 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 Village Life Committee and an opportunity to meet Village residents.
  • Background checks and drugs screenings are required. Residents may not have outstanding warrants and/or sex offender registration.
  • Village residents are expected to be clean and sober. However, we understand the complexity of alcohol and substance abuse and work with residents on every stage of their recovery. 

What is in each tiny home?

  • Each 144 sq. ft. tiny home consists of:
    • Twin bed with linen, pillow, and storage underneath
    • Half bath (toilet and sink)
    • Closet
    • Table and stool
    • Intercom phone to call the office, neighbors, or 911
    • WiFi
    • Full electricity (lights, heater, heat lamp in bathroom)
    • Several windows for ventiliation
    • Porch with room for extra storage

What is in the Community Building?

  • 3 walk in showers and 1 bath
  • Full double kitchen (2 ovens, 2 stoves, 2 microwaves, 2 dishwashers, etc.) with community pots, pans, dishes, and utensils.
  • Dry food storage as well as multiple fridges
  • TV room that doubles as our yoga room
  • Large dining area
  • Rotating library
  • 2 staff offices – Program Manager and Resident Advocate

How did this all get started?

  • Quixote Village started as Camp Quixote, a tent city in downtown Olympia in 2007. It began as a response to a city ordinance that banned lying or sitting on sidewalks in the downtown core.
  • When police threatened to break up the camp, the homeless residents and their activist supporters, The Poor People’s Union and Bread and Roses, approached the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation and asked for sanctuary. In February of 2007, the campers moved in. 
  • In order to be a sanctioned tent city, the camp had to be monitored 24 hours a day and move to a new location every 3 to 6 months.
  • For the next six+ years, the camp moved from one church parking lot to another. This was no easy task!
  • We had hundreds of volunteers help with donations, security, finances, and moving. We are forever grateful to them and the churches that offered the camp sanctuary on their land.
  • The camp was self-governed and had a Resident Council that made sure rules were being followed and were in charge of who moved in and out.
  • The founders of Camp Quixote hoped to find land and build a village for themselves, consisting of tiny houses and a shared building that would house showers, laundry, and cooking facilities.
  • Panza, a non-profit organization, was created to support the camp.  Panza and the camp’s Resident Council worked together to build Quixote Village.
  • Volunteers, supporters, the board, and residents of the camp advocated for themselves and worked with the City Council and County Commissioners to make Quixote Village a reality.
  • It took a LOT of hard work to get to where we are today. We needed to advocate got a permanent solution.
  • We worked with the City Council, the County Commissioners, and the legislature.
  • We had to get a conditional use permit, have amendments to the city code (because there was nothing written in policy for single units that share a common space!), and campaign for the funds.
  • We held multiple open forums educating the community on who we are and what they could expect.
  • On December 24, 2013, the 30 residents of Camp Quixote left their tents behind and became residents of Quixote Village.

What did it cost?

  • 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. 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.

Is the Village self-governed like the camp was?

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 Village Life 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 Village Life 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.