Officials in Los Angeles confiscated a row of tiny houses built with public donations for the homeless.
The Tiny Houses were first built by Elvis Summers in 2016 after he befriended a homeless woman named Smokie McGee.
The aim of the project started was to offer people on the street urgently needed shelter and a safe place for their belongings.
Summers always viewed it as a temporary solution to give homeless people a place to make positive change and eventually get more permanent housing.
After Smokie’s house was built down the street with $500 worth of materials, other homeless people reached out to Summers to see if they could get help, too.
He then started a Go Fund Me page for donations, which went viral and allowed Summers to build a series of small houses in south LA.
The six-by-eight-foot homes were painted bright colors, sported the American flag on the facade, and featured solar-powered lighting.
However, the apartments were removed from the city in warehouses at overpasses along the 110 Freeway.
Luckily, Summers had removed some of these prior to the eviction, but three lots were impounded and placed into storage by the city.
In a report by Los Angeles TimesA spokeswoman for the Bureau of Sanitation said the city told residents the homes would be “disposed of.”
Councilman Curren Price told the news agency at the time that he had received complaints from residents in the area.
Former Mayor Eric Garcetti is committed to tackling homelessness in the city, his spokesman at the time said.
She said in a statement: “Unfortunately, these structures can be dangerous for the individuals who live within them and for the community at large.”
“These structures, some of the materials that have been found in some of them, just the thought of people having some of these things in such a small, such a tight space without the proper insulation, it really puts their lives in jeopardy.”
However, Summers told the news agency that the city made no effort to help residents of the tiny homes after they were removed.
“When the city took the houses, they didn’t offer apartments, they threw them out,” he said.
Summers added, “It’s not a permanent solution, but nobody is doing anything about shelters right now.”
The spokeswoman advised the homeless to use official offers such as emergency shelters or homeless vouchers.
The tiny houses resemble a shed but give the people on the street a sense of calm and ownership.
Building each house on tiny wheels with a portable camping toilet cost Summers just $1,200.
New regulations passed by the city in 2016 classified tiny homes as “bulky items” that authorities should remove immediately.
Summers argued that the homes removed should have been returned to him.
By this time, with the help of volunteers and donations worth thousands of dollars, he had constructed 37 buildings.
The home improvement hero and his supporters protested outside City Hall after the eviction, and the following month the city returned the homes to Summers.
While yielding to Summers, the mayor’s office made it clear that it did not support the idea of a village of tiny houses on city lots.
Summers was left with the option of finding private land to buy and build on.
However, these appeared to have been built on city lots.
A few years later, in 2021, the CEO and founder of the Tiny House Project spoke up California insider about his difficulties working with Los Angeles authorities.
He explained: “Well, I’m trying [work with them]. We sat at the table for many months and almost built a couple of villages a few years ago.
“They pulled the plug at the last minute and never gave us a good reason for it. I’ve been trying to bring them back to the table ever since.”
Summers added that he felt he was “being sidelined” and had nothing positive left to say about city officials.
His frustration grew when the city built its first tiny prefab village for the homeless without helping or including him, making it astronomically expensive.
He explained, “I’ve been trying to do this for almost six years now … I’ve been fighting the city, I’ve been fighting with the city, and all of a sudden tiny house communities are popping up all over LA that cost millions of dollars and a) that doesn’t lie.” to me, b) it doesn’t cost millions of dollars to make, so I have questions.
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village in North Hollywood, LA was established in partnership with the city and the non-profit organization Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.
Accordingly Business InsiderThe property was opened in February 2021 and 43 residents have already moved in.
The project was designed by teachers architects and the city’s Bureau of Engineering, which proposed a budget of $3.49 million.
However, this was exceeded due to foundation work.
The architecture firm said, “This innovative community project offers an aggressive, suitably experimental and contemporary template to alleviate Los Angeles’ homeless crisis by converting a forgotten, oddly shaped infill lot into a facility for 39 one- or two-person units.” Angelenos using pre-made “pallet shelters”.
The nonprofit managed to open a second location called The Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village about two miles away.
Accordingly NBC Los AngelesEach of the houses built in the villages by the nonprofit organization cost $55,000.
They have a lockable door, a bed, air conditioning and a clothes rack.
Summers said: “I think it’s a sham. That they took a very viable solution to help people really quickly and cheaply and twisted them into making millions from it.”
Despite feeling left out of the city, Summers refused to abandon his project, and in the same year that the city opened its first small home village, he seemed to have found a loophole in the law for his own structures.
In 2021 he posted on Facebook: “ADUs [Accessory Dwelling Units] are now legal because the city can benefit from them.
“Tiny houses, when set up in this way, can serve as an ADU. They can also serve as emergency sleeping cabins or shelters.”
It seems Summers has found a solution to his city woes while continuing to build tiny homes for the homeless with his organization.
In a comment to Instagrama follower asked if it was still being shut down by the authorities.
He replied, “No, ancient history. Things are different now.”
Summers even had children coming to help build the houses and learn about homelessness in their town.
The US Sun has reached out to the Tiny House Project and the Los Angeles City Planning Board for comment.