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L.A. Councilman Wants Tiny Houses For Homeless People Removed

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People have been building small, mobile houses for the homeless throughout Los Angeles. Not everyone is a fan, however, saying that these tiny structures are an eyesore that could attract crime. The tiny houses are, at face value, a nice offer for the homeless in an area that's already facing a housing crunch and skyrocketing rents. They look like little shacks and they're on wheels, so their owners can move them around. They don't offer a place to cook, and they don't have bathrooms, but they do provide an added element of privacy and safety.

The idea went viral in a video from Elvis Summers, an L.A. man who built a tiny house for a homeless woman in his neighborhood. More tiny houses can now be found on Skid Row, as well as near Eighth and Palos Vedes streets in San Pedro, the Daily Breeze reports. Funding for three houses in San Pedro came from private donations to the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council's Homelessness Committee and Helping the Homeless in Need San Pedro. Summers has also been raising funds for the Tiny House Project, which would build more tiny homes, and has collected $80,000 of his $100,000 goal so far. The houses cost about $500 each to build, Summer said, and are assembled by volunteers.

The houses were the subject of a community meeting last night, during which people spoke out for and against the homes. Summers attended, saying "[the homeless] are human beings, they’ve got real feelings, they are people who need help.”

Opponents of the tiny houses, however, feel like they're not a solution and they're potentially dangerous, or that they should be moved somewhere else. L.A. Councilmember Joe Buscaino is not a fan of the tiny houses, and wants the city attorney to look into if it's legal to put them on public right of ways and private property. He, along with Councilmember Mitch Englander, also wants the city attorney to recommend protocol for removing the houses.

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"These wooden shacks ultimately will present public safety and public health nightmares," Buscaino told the Daily Breeze. "I want those [shacks] removed yesterday."

Buscaino said that what Los Angeles needs instead is "more permanent supportive housing, which is a proven, effective means of reintegrating chronically homeless individuals and families." He also noted that the tiny homes may be difficult for drivers to see at night.

Mona Sutton, who owns a restaurant in San Pedro spoke at the meeting, saying that the tiny houses "in the middle of our unrevitalized business district is very negative and I don't think it's a positive for the homeless either."

Stephen Robbins, executive director of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District, said that the houses are an eyesore that might "encourage illegal activities to take place," the Contra Costa Times repots.

The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council ultimately voted in support of the Tiny House Project, but doesn't want the structures to be placed on public streets. They will meet again next month to talk about what might be a better location.

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Joe Preston Allen, president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, said that the argument is between people in the district "who are attempting to find housing and support services for all of these unfortunate individuals, and those people who are simply saying, 'Not in my front yard.'"