Los Angeles has become the latest city to experiment with the recent micro home trend to provide secure accommodation for their cities homeless.
Their recent project has formed small but perfectly suitable houses in short rows of white, yellow, pink and blue, separated in geometric blocks of red, green and blue painted asphalt. While pretty, this new neighbourhood is more than just a colourful design statement, and is the city’s ned bid to house some of the city’s increasing homeless.
Lehrer Architects, the firm behind the project, and with a philosophy of “no throwaway spaces:, has unveiled two of these vibrant villages of tiny homes this year, using space previously passed over by other developers due to the lands size, shape, or lack of surrounding infrastructure.
The Chandler Street Tiny Home Village opened in February, and features 39 prefabricated ‘pallet shelters’ on an awkwardly shaped, leftover site that has now found new purpose. The Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village – capable of housing 200 residents in 103 one- or two-person units –completed in April. Two more villages are still under construction in the city, and will offer 374 additional beds.
“With the two bridge home facilities we already have, and with the two additional cabin villages we’re building right now, we will have enough capacity to shelter every single unhoused person who is currently living on a sidewalk in my district this year,” said Paul Krekorian, a member of the LA city council (second district).
Both villages were built in just 13 and 15 weeks respectively. The homes are designed to provide quick-to-construct, safe and healthy ‘bridge’ shelters en route to permanent housing.
The dwellings do not have private bathrooms, but there are shared facilities on site, which can help sponsor a sense of community. The villages also include other community areas for collective dining, areas for washing clothes, pet playgrounds and secure storage.
So, what are they like to live in? “I don’t see any improvements I could make,” Stephen Smith, who moved off the street and into one of the Chandler Street homes, told the Washington Post. Though he admitted that the village could do with more bathrooms.
Los Angeles is not the first city using micro homes as bridge housing. Last year, a development of six such dwellings was launched in Cambridge, England, where in the shadows of the famous university many people are sleeping rough.
Plans are also afoot to use prefabricated micro homes to make use of tight spaces in Bristol, England, in a bid to provide much-needed affordable housing in leftover land passed over for other purposes.
MICRO homes allow people to TAKE A DEEPBREATH, regroup and start living again
However, with a homeless population of more than 66,400 people, Los Angeles County is under more pressure than most to house rough sleepers.
“If we’re going to sit and wait until affordable housing is built, the homeless problem is going to keep growing,” said Ken Craft, CEO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, which runs the Chandler Street village. “We have to be able to get people off the streets and get them into interim housing, while we’re addressing the issue of affordable and permanent housing.”
He added: “A ‘tiny home’ gives people a real sense of independence and security. To me, it allows all people — but especially women — to take a deep breath, regroup, and start living again, instead of just surviving.”
Main image: Lehrer Architects