Elvis Summers crowdfunded $ 100,000 to build tens of tiny houses. City officials wishing to pass a 2 billion-dollar housing project tried to shut him down.
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Every night, tens of thousands of people sleep in the cities of the scenes gathering Los Angeles palm avenues, much more than any other nation of the nation. The homeless population in the world's capital of entertainment has recorded new record records in each of the past few years.
But a 39-year-old competing musician from South LA thought he had a creative restoration. Elvis Summers, who crossed himself in 20 years, brought over $ 100,000 through campaigns he made last spring. With the help of professional contractors and others in the community who sign voluntarily through his nonprofit organization, Human Beginning, he has built dozens of solar-powered homes to house homeless people ever since.
Summers says the homes are meant to be a temporary solution that, unlike a tent, provides the safe base that residents need to improve their lives. "Tiny houses provide a direct roof," he explains. "People can lock their stuff and know that when they return from the drug treatment program or their court or find work all day, their things are where they left it."
Each house has a solar energy system, a steel reinforced door, a camping toilet, a smoke detector and even window alarms. Tiny structures cost Summers about $ 1,200 per square to build.
However, LA city officials had a different plan to deal with the crisis. A decade after the city's first ten-year plan to end the homeless phenomenon that disappeared in 2006, mayor Eric Garcetti announced in February a $ 1.87 billion proposal to remove all LA residents from the streets. He and the City Council intend to create 10,000 permanent housing units with supportive services over the next decade. Meanwhile, they transfer funds away from temporary shelters and emergency shelters.
The Curren Price Council, representing the area where the tiny houses of Summers are located, does not believe it is beneficial either to the community or to the homeless people housed inside. "I do not really want to call them houses, they are really boxes," says Price. "They are not safe and impose real risks for neighbors in the community."
Most of the small houses of Summers are on private land donated to the project. A handful had replaced the scenes that have multiplied on offshore motorways in the city. The summers put them there until they secured a private batch to create a tiny residential village similar to what is already in Portland, Seattle, Austin and elsewhere. "The whole thing and my cause is that something needs to be done now," says Summers.
But the houses, located between ensemble scenes, became colorful targets at the beginning of the year for frustrated residents who want the homeless from their yards. The Council's honor was bombed by complaints from angry members.
In February, the City Council responded by amending a garbage decree to allow for the seizure of tiny houses without prior notice. On the morning of the ninth, just as the mayor and the council gathered at the Town Hall to announce their new plan to end homelessness, police and garbage trucks went to tiny houses, throwing three of them into a sewer office. Summers managed to take eight of the endangered houses into a warehouse before being seized, but their residents were left behind on the sidewalk.
If the city does not devote resources to support new solutions, Summers urges employees at least to make it easier for private organizations and individuals to pave the way forwards. The city has thousands of empty lots, many of which have been abandoned for decades, which could provide space for tiny residential villages or other innovative housing ideas that can have a direct impact.
"Whatever they have done does not work, they are only years of cycles and bureaucratic reservations and they wait times," says Summers. "10, 20, 30, 40 years – where are all the houses?"
Produced by Justin Monticello. Alex Manning and Zach Weissmueller flew. Additional photos from Elvis Summers. Silent Partner Music, Riot, Kevin MacLeod, Audionautix, Woods, Topher Mohr and Alex Elena, The 126ers and Elettroliti. .