Why tiny homes could be the next step to solving Los Angeles homelessness

We can’t just slap a Band-Aid on this deep-rooted crisis.


Ella Jennings

Let empathy move us to action.

Madison Smoak, Guest Writer

Rather than patching up the crisis for another year, community villages for homeless people consider the long-term solution to the crisis. Moreover, not only are residents of the community provided shelter, but they are able to re-imagine and visualize where life might take them next. Through engagement with mental health services, job training and placement services, rehabilitation is extremely attainable.

Recently, Los Angeles has made a new and positive commitment to their homeless population. Villages of tiny homes bought by Mayor Eric Garcetti are an immediate step toward mitigating the number of homeless people on the streets of Southern California. Since its opening on Feb. 2, 2020, the Chandler Boulevard shelter has been at max capacity.

The structures have two beds, heat, air-conditioning, windows, a small desk, electrical outlets and a front door. Residents of the village also have access to collective dining, showers, restrooms, laundry services and storage options. The mission of this project is to prevent, reduce and eventually eliminate poverty through immediate assistance combined with long-term solutions.

Mayor Garcetti purchased fifty of these structures and partnered with Hope of the Valley, a rescue mission based in LA County. The project hopes to build a series of villages with tiny homes for two people as a way to address the long-neglected homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. These villages, inspired by Hope of the Valley, are a strategic move in supporting those who struggle with chronic homelessness.

A key aspect of this project is the emphasis on rehabilitation. Time and time again, the issue of affordable housing, or lack thereof, is addressed by short-term solutions that only temporarily alleviate the deeper issue. Opening tiny homes on Chandler Boulevard is a positive improvement that tells the homeless population that Los Angeles is making a long-term commitment to bettering their lives.

Other villages of this kind, such as the Community First! Village spearheaded by Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas, have paved the way for thinking about permanent commitments to the betterment of our relationship with the homeless community. The RV park has transformed the city of Austin, giving the homeless population a permanent place to call home as well as opportunities to earn an income and cultivate healthy relationships. Their lead on housing for chronically homeless populations is an important example of the ways Americans can address the homelessness crisis. Rather than highlighting these parks and tiny home villages as shelters, these communities emphasize restoration, hope and the normalization of healthy relationships.

The reason behind the success of these villages is the community’s lasting commitment to community and restoration. Instead of emphasizing getting homeless people off the streets, Los Angeles has taken a step in restoring their lifestyles and health through long-term solutions. Even during a pandemic, Hope of the Valley responded to the homeless crisis by opening a job center, 85-bed bridge housing shelter, and a 100-bed bridge shelter in 2020. Hope of the Valley’s mission and partnership with Los Angeles is the first step toward adjusting the approach to the overwhelming homelessness crisis in America. Moreover, these types of institutions are influential to the American citizen as these villages demonstrate long-term investments where people can donate, volunteer, and aid in the rehabilitation of the United States homeless population. These projects should bring a positive attitude and change to the Los Angeles community and will perhaps inspire other cities to begin working with their homeless community in a similar manner.

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