L.A. Bans, Takes Down Tiny Houses Built for Homeless


Oftentimes when individuals step up, creating solutions to the most pressing issues we face as a society, the state steps in, putting an end to private initiative in the name of the common good.

By:  Alice Salles

This article first appeared at VoicesOfLiberty

According to the LA Times, Los Angeles city officials have been stepping up their efforts to ban and seize tiny houses from the homeless. Most of these tiny homes are located on freeway overpasses in the South of the city. At least three wooden houses painted with bright colors and fitted with solar-powered lights and American flags were confiscated in early February. Others were scheduled to be impounded later this week.

To Elvis Summers, the man who decided to build and distribute these homes, is now rushing to pick up the homes he built so he can store them away from officials.

“These people are beaten down so hard,” Summers told the LA Times, “you give them any opportunity to be normal, it lifts them up.” Instead of cheering the private initiative, the city decided to throw these people back into the streets.

According to Los Angeles officials, the effort to seize these tiny homes is part of a street cleanup requested by the office of Councilman Curren Price, the representative of the neighborhood. Sanitation spokeswoman Elena Stern said the tiny houses will be destroyed.


From the LA Times:

“Some advocates for the homeless see the wooden, single-room structures—each about the size of a parking spot—as a simple and safer alternative to having the homeless sleep on the sidewalks.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s spokeswoman, Connie Llanos, said he is committed to getting homeless people into permanent and not makeshift housing.

‘Unfortunately, these structures can be hazardous to the individuals living in them and to the community at large,’ Llanos said in a statement on the mayor’s behalf.

‘When the city took the houses, they didn’t offer housing, they straight kicked them out,’ Summers said.”

Summers claims that at least 37 tiny homes were built for the homeless from Van Nuys to Inglewood. Several volunteers came together to help. Materials were purchased with the over $100,000 in donations Summers received from people around the world who were moved by his online campaign.

Summers says he’s angry. Instead of returning the homes to the builder, the city is now destroying them, putting an end to the initiative that managed to help so many homeless individuals across the city.

To Kenner Jackson, a man who lives in a tiny house with his wife and dog, officials are “taking houses from people who need them right now. … Their plan isn’t anything.” If their house is taken, Jackson is not sure what he’ll do. “This is our foundation,” he told LA Times.

According to Jackson, officials are taking the homes and leaving mattresses and other items residents dump by the freeways behind.

Several other homeless individuals whose lives were significantly improved by the tiny homes made by Summers are overwhelmed.

Read this last excerpt from the LA Times:

“Johnny Horton, 60, whose heavily bandaged legs were scored with wounds from uncontrolled diabetes, wept silently Wednesday as he contemplated going back to sleeping in the street.

‘Laying on that tent on the sidewalk it’s impossible to keep clean,’ Horton said. He said the staff at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, which discharged him Tuesday, said they’d try to get him housing, but it would take one to three months.

‘I grew up in this neighborhood,’ Horton said.

Posted on Julia Briggs Cannon’s tiny house next to the city impound notice were several fliers seeking the whereabouts of her husband, Larry Joe Cannon.

Cannon, 58, said her husband, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss, was hospitalized with a seizure Feb. 5, then disappeared.

After Summers drove off with her house, she sat on a thin bedroll on the ground and pointed to the concrete.

‘I’m staying right here,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. ‘My husband is gone and I can’t find him.’

Stern said authorities destroyed needles, drug setups and a gun seized from one or more of the houses during the earlier cleanup.

Homeless people can retrieve the rest of their belongings from the city’s skid row storage bin, she said, but Summers said possessions including bike repair parts were missing.”

This article first appeared at VoicesOfLiberty