Tiny houses for homeless people are now considered hazardous by Los Angeles authorities, and efforts are underway to dismantle and tear down the structures used to provide shelter to the city’s most destitute individuals.
The initiative to build tiny houses for homeless individuals in Los Angeles was masterminded by Elvis Summers and launched in April 2015, being supported by donations amounting to $100,000.
The small plywood homes cover the same surface as a parking spot, and have windows, doors that can be safely latched, as well as functional lightning, thanks to solar panels.
Around 37 such establishments have been erected in the last year as part of the project called “A tiny house, huge purpose”, and they now occupy an area stretching between 2 Los Angeles neighborhoods: Van Nuys and Inglewood.
Building tiny houses for homeless people appeared like a much needed way of aiding the city’s 30,000 inhabitants who have to sleep rough on the streets, on park benches, in tents or in crammed shelters.
But now these portable structures will have to be demolished, allegedly as part of the Clean Streets initiative launched by Eric Garcetti, the elected mayor of Los Angeles.
As explained by Elena Stern, a representative of the Bureau of Sanitation, even though the tiny houses for homeless individuals were likely set up by selfless people who mean well, they can’t be treated as adequate housing facilities.
According to Stern, the structures are actually temporary establishments, which can’t provide roofless people with a safe and permanent home.
That’s because the electrical installation of these dwellings hasn’t been verified by a qualified electrician, and there is no indoor plumbing or valve supplying the structures with tap water or fulfilling basic sanitation needs.
Moreover, the proximity of these miniature residences is also perilous for other locals, since it can provide a safe harbor for illegal activities, such as drug abuse.
So far, three tiny houses for homeless dwellers have been disassembled and confiscated, following an order issued by Curren Price, Los Angeles City councilman for District 9.
The sheds had all been erected on overpasses near Interstate 110, in the southern part of Los Angeles. Solely from these 3 homes, local authorities have seized significant amounts of drug paraphernalia (30 items such as crack cocaine pipes or cannabis bongs), as well as approximately 100 syringes, and a handgun.
As residents from neighboring apartment buildings and homes complain, the tiny houses for homeless citizens have become an ideal place for stashing illegal drugs or weapons, being associated with condemnable practices, such as prostitution, narcotics abuse and gang violence.
Some locals even fear for their lives now, because the miniature shacks, which are often placed in the middle of the sidewalk and in other pedestrian zones, are now used as hubs for criminal activity, instead of providing comfort and assistance to people who are genuinely in distress.
Due to all these concerns, tiny houses for homeless people have recently been listed as “bulky objects” in a city ordinance, which means they can be impounded and destroyed without having to notify residents 24 hours in advance.
Even so, city officials insist that they’ve made sure that those whose sheds were being removed would have enough time to evacuate the property, and receive temporary shelter and all the support they needed.
Summers and his colleagues have rejected these claims, deploring the decision to have the encampments seized and obliterated.
The volunteers managed to save 7 other miniature shelters that were scheduled to be extirpated on Thursday, dismantling them before sanitation workers arrived at the scene and transporting them to another location.
Apparently, some dwellings have already been set up on private land, where it will be possible for homeless people to inhabit them without being displaced yet again.
Summers has also argued that illegal activity isn’t actually more prevalent in these sheds than in other parts of the city. Instead, it’s likely that the houses were targeted because they are extremely cheap to make, one such portable residence costing just around $1,200 to build.
Given that officials have claimed that $1.87 billion would be required in the following decade in order to address rampant homelessness, which has resulted in a state of emergency throughout the city, it’s likely that they have no intention to back micro-housing initiatives, which would require much less funding.
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