The war on homeless people just took a nasty turn in Los Angeles, as the city began seizing donated tiny homes and throwing the occupants right back onto the streets. The city has long had a problem with homelessness and is dead set on making sure that problem continues for the foreseeable future.
Homelessness is rarely a choice for many people, and assistance can be difficult to come by in some areas. Where city and state run facilities have fallen short of being able to aid the least fortunate among us, private citizens have stepped in to help. Most homeless people are forced to sleep either out in the open or, if they’re lucky, in tents — makeshift or otherwise. In order to ease the burden of these individuals, tiny homes had been donated, giving them safe shelter at night.
Tiny homes are, to put it simply, essentially small homes, usually about the size of a small trailer or shed, that have some basic accoutrements normally found in traditional houses. The ones being seized, for example, have solar lighting and sleeping facilities in order to get out of the elements. The key difference is that, as their name indicates, they are much, much, smaller; typically only under 200 square feet. The appeal is that they are able to efficiently use space in a manner that is still very comfortable and useful to its occupants. This small size, coupled with its relatively inexpensive construction, makes them ideal for homeless people who would otherwise have nowhere else to go.
Elvis Summers, once homeless himself, constructed the tiny homes in Los Angeles, giving them out as a means of aiding those who had the need. They were placed within encampment areas near freeway overpasses where homeless people typically set up camp. The city was not having any of this “allowing homeless people to sleep indoors” business, however, and began seizing them, throwing the occupants back on the streets.
“These people are beaten down so hard, you give them any opportunity to be normal, it lifts them up,” says Summers of his tiny home donation. But the City of Angels has no interest in allowing homeless people to lead normals lives, instead preferring to keep them out of sight and out of mind.
Officials are claiming that the tiny homes are being used for illicit activities, such as drug use, and that they are removing them as a safety precaution. Of course, they were seized because they are considered too “bulky” (read: ugly). Presumably they figure that homeless people are much, much safer on the streets, and that crime in the city has now been wiped out thanks to their heroic efforts to destroy the latest hope of vulnerable people. And it’s not as if Summers didn’t tell the city of his plans; on the contrary, he tried to enlist their help.
“I’ve attempted along the whole way to get all kinds of people and organizations involved, including the city, and they refused to be involved,” Summers said. “Now the city has gone as far as to make an amendment to an ordinance forcing me to remove all of the tiny houses from the streets.”
So now Los Angeles is right back where it started, with even more people sleeping on the streets without nowhere to turn. And those people have, once again, lost everything — this time in the name of unfeeling government bureaucrats who care more about appearances than they do the plight of indigent people. Summers is also heartbroken over his good deed and hard work being undone.
“When the city took the houses, they didn’t offer housing, they straight kicked them out,” Summers said. Forced to evict the people himself, he adds that he “just had to evict an elderly woman whose veteran husband is missing in the city. It’s really frustrating.”