In early February, the city of Los Angeles opened a temporary housing shelter featuring 39 prefab tiny homes. The site is designed to help clients get back on their feet as they seek other housing.
"LA Times Today" recently visited LA's first tiny home village to talk to participants and staff about how things are going.
One participant named Estella said she appreciates the convenience of the tiny homes.
"I love it. I have my own space; I could close my door and lock it. When I go out, I do not have to worry about anyone coming to my room and stealing. Every time we take a shower, they always clean the bathrooms. And then you get water and meals three times a day. Now I can get things and do not have to worry about things getting thrown away. If you have a problem and want to talk to them, they are there for you," she said.
Even though the tiny homes are not permanent housing for the participants, the help they receive from the program will give them the tools they need to find better opportunities.
"It is a 90-day program, and our goal here is to help them with documentation. You cannot get a job without social security or an ID, or a birth certificate. So, those three things are crucial to getting housing and employment," said the case manager of Tiny Homes Chandler, Christopher Hernandez.
Program manager Jamie Carmona said she has noticed a difference in the participants who have moved into tiny homes.
"Within a week, you will see that they are sleeping better; they are taking care of themselves, showering, and things like that. Even though they are not getting their housing right away, you can see that it is helping them in many other ways."
The shelter has staff members who have experienced similar life situations as the participants.
"At one point when I was younger, I was homeless with my mom, brothers and sisters. I think that is what motivated me to start working with the homeless," Carmona added.
Overall, the response to this new shelter has been positive.
"We have been here for two months, and we have been running perfectly. We have 39 houses here at this location. So we can get more than 39 people off the street. We have had police officers come in, and they love this place. They tell us they think it is going to work," Hernandez said.
A second tiny homes site is set to open next week in Alexandria Park. The new site will feature 103 tiny homes, more than doubling the number of homes at the Chandler site. Guided tours are being offered to the public; visit hopeofthevalley.org for more information.
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