Big Victory for Tiny Houses! City Returns Donated Homes It Confiscated From the Homeless
After months of battling with Los Angeles officials, the man behind the tiny house village won the war to have his bare-bones homes returned to the homeless.
The units that were confiscated by City of Los Angeles shortly after being put on the street last December will be returned, said Elvis Summers, the entrepreneur behind the Starting Human project that set out to create homes for people who "need a little help getting off the streets."
City officials said the homes were seized last February because they blocked sidewalks and put the neighborhood at risk. Sanitation workers were ordered to confiscate the tiny homes located at a freeway overpass, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Though Summers was able to save eight of the homes in time, three were taken.
The confiscated homes were stored in a city equipment lot instead of being destroyed. Summers put the homes he saved in church parking lots, while the people who once lived in the homes were sent back to the streets.
Because of the city's revised decision, the former inhabitants will now be re-invited to live in the once-impounded homes.
Summers said city officials even planned to lease out underused lots for the homes, though the mayor's spokesperson reported that the city will not be supporting the concept of a homeless village, the Times reported.
In what the Starting Human project called a "big victory," the decision comes after months of protests of the February confiscation.
Supporters of the tiny house movement took to social media and to the streets, with over 75 protesters– both homeless and non-homeless– storming City Hall in March to demand the return of the tiny homes, according to the Times.
Councilman Curren Price, who requested the confiscation, reportedly continued to call the tiny homes a danger to public health and safety, the Times reported.
"Police have identified firearms, drug activity going on," Price said. "A box of plywood is still a box."
He also said in a video interview that because of its lack of heating and plumbing, the tiny houses are not "sustainable resources."
But Summers, who was once homeless himself, responded that the tiny homes were not meant to be a permanent solution, calling them the "bridge between gutter and more permanent housing."
He said in a video that the idea was to "[get] people off the streets and into better shelter until more permanent housing becomes available."
Through a GoFundMe campaign, Summers raised over $100,000 for the cause. With the money, he built 37 bare-bones homes in Los Angeles.
Each house is approximately the size of a parking spot, and uses solar-powered lights.
His GoFundMe campaign is now in its second phase. The tiny home endeavor is now raising money to create showers, laundry as well as an operations headquarters for the many volunteers to gather and help build. They also accept building supplies, and essentials like bottled water.