When you live in a society where there is always money for war, but never enough to feed or care for the homeless, are you truly free? We dare you to ask this question, especially after reviewing what authorities are doing in Los Angeles, California, and in other areas of the United States.
The LA Times reports that city officials have begun seizing tiny houses from homeless people in South Los Angeles. Such is part of a long-going effort to “stamp out an unprecedented spread of city encampments.”
Elvis Summers, who built and donated structures — all which included solar-powered lights and American flags, had to remove seven of the happily-painted homes ahead of the city’s sweep. He placed them along the 110 Freeway so homeless people would have a place to sleep that was more secure than tents.
Earlier this month, three of the structures were impounded. Now, they are collecting dust in a city storage law, according to a Bureau of Sanitation spokeswoman. The city reportedly notified occupants that they would be “discarded.”
Summers, who was once homeless himself, is frustrated that the city would collect the tiny homes. “These people are beaten down so hard, you give them any opportunity to be normal, it lifts them up,” said Summers.
According to Councilman Curren Price, it is essential to remove they tiny houses as they pose “serious health and safety risks.” He said, “I’m getting complaints from constituents who have to walk in to the streets to avoid them.”
Advocates for the homeless say the single-story structures, which are no bigger than a garden shed, offer a cheap and safe alternative to having the homeless sleep on the sidewalks. Opponents say the tiny homes provide “cover” for criminal activity. Indeed, in some of the tiny homes, authorities found needles, drug setups, and even a gun.
June Ellen Richard, 54, says “they are only homes for prostitution, shooting up, and smoking up.” The California resident has lived within blocks of one of the freeway overpasses all of her life.
The biggest problem, according to activists, is that the city just took the houses without offering housing. “They straight kicked them out,”Summers said. According to the city’s new ordinance, any “bulky items” on the streets, including tiny houses, are subject to immediate confiscation.
The city of Los Angeles has adopted a plan to end homelessness over the next decade. However, officials have not yet identified where to source money for the $2-billion problem. There are more than 30,000 homeless people on the streets in Los Angeles county.
Over the years, Summer has built 37 tiny houses with the help of volunteers. He recognizes that tiny homes are not a permanent solution, but feels something must be done. “It’s not a permanent solution, but nobody is doing anything for shelter right now,” said Summers.”They keep just saying we need permanent housing, but it never happens.”