The city of Seattle has agreed to keep open a tiny house village in Northlake it’s been trying to close for months, in exchange for an agreement from the village residents that they would leave.

“As long as the State of Emergency and our health allows, we will depart by June 1, 2020,” said a letter signed by several residents of Nickelsville Northlake, a fenced-off lot of tiny houses where a small group of formerly homeless people are staying.

The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless is funded by BECU, Campion Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Seattle Foundation and the University of Washington. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over Project Homeless content.

The city, in a blog post, cited the COVID-19 outbreak and the need for as many shelter beds as possible as a reason for allowing the village to stay.

The city has been pressuring the village to leave since at least December; last year, the village locked its gates to the city and the city’s chosen contractor, the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI), after a dispute over case management and Nickelsville’s practice of kicking out people who repeatedly break small community rules.

The dispute even resulted in LIHI staff trying to push open the gate at Northlake in October.

But the activists who run Nickelsville Northlake and another tiny house village at the Church of the Good Shepherd have staved off eviction by calling on their many supporters: In December, when the city and LIHI gave them a deadline to leave, Nickelsville and its supporters planned to camp in the village and be arrested if need be.

“I’m relieved that — during this extraordinary public health crisis — our Mayor is able to provide more time for those experiencing homelessness at the Northlake ‘tiny home village,’ so they may remain for several additional months on the property they have called home during the past two years,” Councilmember Alex Pedersen, whose district encompasses the village, wrote in the blog post. “I look forward to the folks there — many of whom I have met personally — staying safe and eventually transitioning to permanent housing, and I commend their Wallingford neighbors for being so welcoming and compassionate.”

As part of the agreement, the city will return the bathrooms and hygiene services at the site to LIHI, the owner, but will replace them right away, according to the blog post. The letter said Nickelsville residents are “flexible” when it comes to hygiene services.