With thousands living on LA's streets, a temporary fix may aid in getting those who want housing a shot at shelter with tiny homes that have a bed, climate control, and are easy to clean, which is essential in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The LA Conservation Corps and Seattle-based company Pallet are partnering to build 425 shelters across the City of Los Angeles for unhoused people.
Each unit has a bed, shelving, climate control, electricity, and safety features, the company said.
For the last five months, Alexandria Shore had been living on the streets in North Hollywood. As an LA transplant, she says the city called out to her.
“I left an abusive relationship in New York and I’m also a musician," Shore said.
Thousands like her seek out a way off the streets every day, just as more fall victim of the cycle, and when all they want is a place to call their own, a lack of housing makes it all the more difficult.
“The biggest struggle we have isn’t finding people who want to make the change but finding apartments available for rent," Rowan Vansleve, of Hope of the Valley rescue mission, said.
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Hope of the Valley is a non-profit working off donations to make places like a Bridge Home shelter on Chandler Boulevard work. To thank local residents who approved the site, they cast a 3-mile net to seek out those hoping for a better life off the streets.
"We meet the people right there and ask them – 'are you ready to break the cycle of homelessness in your life?' Once you agree, we send a van and we pick you up and we bring you to a facility like this," Vansleve said.
The shelter offers bathrooms and showers, laundry and meals – and case managers – all within steps of tiny homes they can call their own.
"The staff is great. Everything is clean. I never have to worry about toilet paper, food," Shore said.
“I’m working on trying to go back to school and being here, it’s been amazing.”
Now Pallet is trying to also help fix the problem of homelessness in Southern California.
The Pallet shelter is a self-contained unit. It offers "essential features compared to tents and other improvised shelter alternatives. The design of the shelter structures also makes them easy to clean when transitioning between occupants, an important consideration during the COVID-19 pandemic."
“We treat homelessness like the emergency it is," said Brandon Bills.
They become a temporary community as a way to buy time to find permanent, supportive housing – usually 90 days to six months.
“I’m looking at an apartment and also starting a business," Shore said.
She said she wants to be a success story, and she sees the same drive in the others she’s met in her new neighborhood.
"Everybody here has so much to offer the world, everybody," she said.
All in, the cost to taxpayers is about $8,000 per unit. Some 425 are expected to be completed county-wide by year’s end.