The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused

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The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Aerial view of Tiny Homes Village. Ted Soqui for Insider
  • Tiny Homes Villages are cheap and quick to build, and offer transitional housing for L.A.'s unhoused.
  • Built on small slivers of "virtually unusable" city land, like "oddly shaped junk lots," they are set up with the help of the local community.
  • Around 66,436 people in Los Angeles County experience homelessness, according to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.

Before moving into the Red Barn, the nickname she's given her 8-by-8 foot house, Estella Ortiz had been homeless for six years. Not long ago, she was living on the same plot of land where the Tiny Homes Village now stands.

Ortiz has a new bed with pillows and, beside one of the four windows, there's a house plant that she's been taking care of. For the first time in years, she said she is able to sleep through the night. She has a door that locks, and no one around to harass her. Her fingernails are starting to grow out again.

"This, this was cool to me, you know, cause I got really tired of being homeless," she said. "You feel likes there's no end to it."

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The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Tiny Homes Village is in the NoHo Arts district of L.A. Ted Soqui for Insider

Located along Chandler Blvd., Tiny Homes Village is in the North Hollywood (NoHo) Arts district, northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

From above, the Tiny Homes Village looks like a Southern California themed Monopoly board. Cheap to manufacture, quick to build, and thoughtfully designed, the structures offer transitional bridge housing for the unhoused. Here and at other sites around the city, members of the local community are invited to help set up and decorate the village.

The project was funded by the city of Los Angeles and Hope of the Valley through private donations. One Hope of the Valley project has received funding from the Trebek Foundation, the family foundation the late TV "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.

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The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
An aerial view of the site. Ted Soqui for Insider
The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
The Tiny Homes Village in Los Angeles, CA. Ted Soqui for Insider

Around 66,436 people in Los Angeles County (including 41,000 people within LA city limits) experience homelessness, according to the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. According to Capital & Main, 2020 was an especially deadly year for the city's unhoused population.

Tents and sidewalk encampments on city streets and parks have increasingly become a political issue. This spring, city police cleared a homeless encampment of some 100 tents at Echo Park Lake.

The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission CFO Rowan Vansleve. Ted Soqui for Insider

The L.A. City Council recently passed new restrictions on where unhoused people can sit, sleep, and place their belongings. Critics say the new rules further criminalize homelessness and fail to offer meaningful assistance to a vulnerable population.

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"We had over 1,300 people die on the streets of Los Angeles last year for no other reason than they were poor, disproportionately people of color, disproportionately elderly," said Rowan Vansleve said, the CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, the group that operates Tiny Homes Village.

The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Members of the local community volunteered to set up and help decorate the village. Ted Soqui for Insider

Vansleve said similar villages are in the works, generally on small slivers of "virtually unusable" city land, like "oddly shaped junk lots" and the site of a former rolling rink. Another Tiny Home site opened on July 2 in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Tarzana, just west of here.

The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Estella Ortiz sitting inside her tiny home, which she calls the Red Barn. Ted Soqui for Insider

Aside from the one-bedroom houses, the site has private restrooms and showers, laundry, and outdoor seating areas. It's shielded with a fence and 24-hour security which cloaks the village from the street.

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Three meals are offered a day and residents are given access to job training placement and counselors.

The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Estella Ortiz with her houseplant. Ted Soqui for Insider
The Tiny Homes going up on oddly-shaped slivers of 'virtually unusable' city land to shelter LA's unhoused
Estella Ortiz standing outside of her tiny home, the “Red Barn.” Ted Soqui for Insider
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