Target: Los Angeles City Council
Goal: Allow the continuation of the project that donates “tiny houses” to the homeless.
Donated miniature shelters for the homeless are being outlawed for selfish reasons by the Los Angeles City Council. The homeless cry with happiness when Summers delivers them these makeshift houses; having a place to call their own instills them with a sense of dignity on top of the protection it provides. City Council members, on the other hand, see them as an eyesore and have done everything in their power to get them out of the city.
A recent report found that 13,000 people fall into homelessness every month in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council has been negligent in fixing this problem, leaving it up to charitable citizens to try and come up with solutions. One citizen, Elvis Summers, came up with “tiny houses,” 4-by-6 wooden structures on wheels with a window and door, for the homeless to sleep in. He makes these structures himself from money donated through the fundraising site GoFundMe.
The city has deemed the “tiny houses” illegal by claiming they qualify as “bulky items,” which according to city law can be picked up and thrown away by city sanitation workers. Yet, these “bulky items” somehow also constitute as houses when it serves the interests of the city. Senior Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores states the tiny houses don’t meet “very strict building codes” that state any approved structure must have the “bare minimum access” to electricity and water.
The city is missing the bigger issue that arises from this argument–that these people are lacking what we deem the “bare minimum.” Other critics claim the project is well intentioned but doesn’t take into account the well-being of the rest of the community. Having to pass by subjectively unattractive structures shouldn’t constitute as hurting anybody’s well-being and can not be compared to the harm it will cause the homeless if their houses are taken away.
Summers has petitioned to keep the houses on a private lot where the homeless could share access to bathrooms and showers and have access to mental health treatment and job counseling. Supporters of the tiny houses are in agreement that the city needs to find better solutions, but in the interim, providing these houses to the homeless is the least the community can do. Demand that the City Council stops skewing this humanitarian issue into a building code violation and allow the tiny houses project to continue.
Dear Los Angeles City Council,
Homelessness is endemic in Los Angeles and the city has failed these members of its community. Residents have come up with a viable short-term solution and you’ve destroyed it, while only providing promises for a long-term solution and no substitution during the interim.
City Councilman Joe Buscaino ridiculed the tiny homes project, stating, “The only legal use for these is for dogs. This is not the way we treat people who are homeless in our city.” How do you treat the homeless in your city? You leave them on the streets with no shelter, no protection, and no privacy.
Buscaino also claims the tiny houses are “public safety and public health nightmares.” The homeless epidemic that has already plagued the city is the public safety and health nightmare. These tiny houses actually improve the safety and health for the homeless, providing them shelter from the elements. As for the houses being an eyesore, the hundreds of thousands of people under your district who are sleeping on the streets is more of an eyesore, especially on your governance.
You are using baseless claims and technical jargon to criminalize this humanitarian project. Please reconsider your stance and allow the tiny houses project to continue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Christina Nellemann