CANOGA PARK, Calif. — The cold days of winter are a crucial time for Pastor Kathy Huck to make sure tents, blankets, and other supplies are in the hands of homeless people.
"From this point last year, in mid-November until the first week of December, nine people that I know that I serve died, and six of them was from exposure," Huck said.
What You Need To Know
- Foam panel tents are an open-sourced design that costs about $250 to make
- Each alternative tent includes a vent, solar panel for lights and phone charging, and an opening and closing door
- The Alternative Tents can be seen along the riverbed in Canoga Park
It is a constant battle against the elements for people without homes, and advocates such as Huck, founder of About My Father's Business Homeless Outreach Ministry, are trying to keep them safe.
This year, she connected with the L.A. Launchpad and The Church of Space to create and provide seven insulated foam panel yurts in the Canoga Park area by the riverbed.
The foam panel tents are an open-sourced design that anyone can make for about $250. They help provide an insulated barrier for people without housing from the elements and can go up and be taken down within minutes.
"That insulation can keep in the heat, and it can also, you know, deter some of the heat in the summertime, so it works both ways," Huck said.
Evangelina Quezada has been homeless for the last year and a half. As one of the recipients, her alternative tent helps her maintain a safe space until she can get back on her feet.
"We were staying in a tent; it was very hard, yeah. With this now, it's a lot, a little warmer," Quezada said.
While it is not an ideal situation for people without housing, Huck shared that some neighbors nearby have expressed their opposition to these yurts.
"I've had people say they are going to come tear them down. I hope that does not happen. I've also had people who want to understand what it is," Huck said.
As cars drive by the area, Jessica Aguilar, who was on her way to drop off her son at a relative's house, stopped to take a closer look at the yurts and the uniform environment that helped clean up the area.
"It was a bunch of tents. It was a mess. Bikes, everything is a mess, you know. I see, at least with this, they have their little privacy. They can be safe," Aguilar said.
Huck regularly checks in to help keep these areas clean. She said she believes the alternative tents could be a simple way to offer people shelter while waiting for housing.
"It's kind of like the model program, and if this works then maybe you know, then maybe, in areas this can be in, and it doesn't disrupt [the] public right of way and such, we could put these panel tents out throughout the city," Huck said.
While it's not clear how the city will respond to these alternative tents in the future, Huck is hopeful that it will help people without housing get safely through this pandemic and winter.
Anyone interested in obtaining the open-sourced design or more information on the yurts can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield recently visited the Canoga Park site where the yurts were placed.
He shared with Spectrum News 1 this statement about the yurts:
"I appreciate the ingenuity and this highlights the reality that immediate creative transitional housing solutions cannot come soon enough. Recently, as part of my regular outreach efforts, I spent time with the unhoused folks at this site in Canoga Park and each of their stories reflect that all levels of government must cut through the red tape, work together, foster partnerships and provide solutions now.
Though thousands of permanent housing units are funded and are being built throughout the City, that process has been way too slow and expensive. Through my local efforts, within a few months, the West Valley will welcome two Cabin Communities, Bridge Housing, more Safe Parking, as well as more hotel and motel options and we must continue to embrace these types of long- and short-term solutions until every unhoused person in the West Valley is off the streets."