Pallet, an Everett, Wash. social purpose corporation, has raised $15 million to expand its production of shelters made of hard, plastic panels that can temporarily house people experiencing homelessness.
The startup launched in 2016. As the homelessness crisis has continued growing in Washington state and cities nationwide, 60 communities in 11 states have installed Pallet shelters. Five Washington cities including Seattle and Tacoma have erected the cabins.
The tech: Each tiny house has built-in features including floors, beds, windows, storage and a locking door. The units can be assembled in less than an hour and a 50-cabin village can be erected in a day. The structures are easy to clean and resistant to mildew and water damage.
The cabins are meant to be assembled alongside bathroom and dining facilities, which Pallet also builds. The smallest, 8-by-8 feet shelters start at $5,500.
The goal is to get people out of tents and other marginal shelters and into Pallet units where they can access resources and transition into long-term housing.
Funding: The Series A round included the impact investment firms DBL Partners and Citi through its Citi Impact Fund, plus participation from four additional firms. Pallet previously received $3.6 million of impact investment funding.
Perks of social purpose: “Profit is not our first priority,” said Pallet CEO Amy King. “We exist because communities cannot quickly build enough affordable, permanent housing to meet the needs of their residents. This investment will ultimately help those cities and towns address the unsheltered homelessness crisis with the speed and scale it requires.”
The company’s mission includes hiring people who might struggle to find work — such as people who have formerly been incarcerated, homeless or struggled with substance abuse. Pallet has 105 employees.
Demand: While additional homeless shelters and affordable housing is being built and planned for, it’s not enough to meet today’s demand.
Pre-pandemic, nearly 23,000 people in Washington were experiencing homelessness during a one-night count in January 2020, according to a federal report. Housing projects announced this week by Amazon, for example, won’t be completed until 2023 or 2024.