LA just debuted a new $8.6 million prefab tiny home village to help solve the city's homelessness crisis— see inside

  • A new prefabricated tiny home village has arrived in North Hollywood, Los Angeles.
  • The $8.6 million village, operated by Hope of the Valley, will have 200 beds for the local unhoused population.
  • The 103 prefab tiny homes were produced by Washington-based Pallet Shelter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Los Angeles has been battling a homelessness crisis for several years now.

To address this issue, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has opened a new village of tiny homes for people without homes located just a short drive away from the city's iconic Hollywood sign.

In 2015, the city declared a "state of emergency" on homelessness.

Source: Los Angeles Times

And in April, the city's mayor Eric Garcetti proposed allocating almost $1 billion in the upcoming budget year towards helping the city's unhoused residents.

Source: Los Angeles Times

But shortly after Garcetti's announcement, a federal judge ordered the city to offer all of Skid Row's unhoused residents a shelter or home by October.

Source: Los Angeles Times

To help alleviate Los Angeles' growing crisis, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has been opening villages of tiny homes meant to house the city's unhoused residents.

These tiny homes are an alternative to "congregate shelters," which often take more money and time to build.

Tiny homes aren't the "silver bullet" for stopping homeless, but they can certainly help put a damper on the crisis, Rowan Vansleve, CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, told Insider.

Source: Los Angeles Times

"It's a moral issue," Vansleve explained as we sat at the village's red tables. "You need to house these people in a place that they are safe, where they can be taken care of and they can make that next step out."

The Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village, which was built by the city, is being operated by the Hope of the Valley.

Before this village ever existed, the site was a homeless encampment akin to a "humanitarian crisis" that didn't have any sewage or electricity, according to Vansleve.

"I look at people on the street [in their late 60s, early 70s] and some of them could be my mum," Vansleve said. "They've experienced incredible amounts of trauma and they're left on the street."

The encampment has since been transformed into what is now the largest tiny home community in California, according to Hope of the Valley.

This is the organization's second tiny home village. The first village, shown below, is only a few miles away.

The new Alexandria Park location has 103 tiny homes, 200 beds …

… a laundry room …

… and restroom facilities with 15 showers, sinks, and toilets.

The village also has outdoor communal areas, including a small dog park, a park that's yet to be complete …

…and a seating area next to the staff members' offices, which include case managers.

The entryway into the village also has lockers for residents to store goods that aren't allowed inside of the premise, whether it be personal defense weapons or drugs.

Items that can't fit in these lockers or inside the tiny homes can be stored in the locked storage area inside the village.

Alexandria Park's bright colors are undeniably the most eye-catching feature of the village.

These vibrant colors contrast several of the all-white tiny homes.

According toVansleve, these pops of color keep the village from looking too "institutional" …

… and was designed by people who "took into account the trauma and institutionalization that people have been through."

"It doesn't feel like a homeless shelter, it feels like a launching pad," Vansleve said. "As you walk through, it almost has a college dorm sort of vibe to it, which is exciting."

The tiny homes kin Alexandria Park and Hope of the Valley's first tiny home village, Chandler Boulevard, are all made by Washington-based Pallet Shelter.

Pallet specializes in creating prefab tiny homes that can be used to house people who may have lost their homes due to natural or personal disasters.

"What we felt was really missing from the housing spectrum was a dignified shelter option that honored their individuality and allowed them to have autonomy in their rehabilitation process," Amy King, founder and CEO of Pallet, told Insider earlier this year.

Source: Insider

Creating a prefabricated home is often more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly, and faster than building a traditional home.

As a result, prefabs are now increasingly being seen as a prospective answer to both the US' inaccessible housing market and the homelessness crisis.

The Pallet shelters located in Alexandria Park can be assembled within 90 minutes.

The 64-square-foot shelters are built on an aluminum frame and fiber-reinforced plastic composite walls.

Each bed costs about $43,000, bringing the village's total cost to $8.6 million.

This may sound expensive, but according to Vansleve, Alexandria Park has the least-expensive homeless beds in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority funds the majority of this development. About 10 to 15% of the site's costs not covered by this agency are instead supported by private donors.

The village also receives some of the profits and tiny home furnishings from Hope of the Valley's five donation and thrift stores.

Each tiny home can house up to two people, an option that allows couples to stay together.

Every resident will receive their own bed topped with a navy blue duvet, a color that is meant to invoke a calm feeling.

Occupants also get their own toiletries bag customized for men and women.

The individual shelters are filled with electricity-based amenities, including an air conditioning unit, a heater, lights, and outlets.

Some of the tiny homes and bathrooms are even wheelchair accessible.

The front doors all lock, providing its occupants with a sense of security that might not have previously been available to them.

By offering individual lockable shelters in a shared community space, residents can decide how private or social they want their time at Alexandria Park to be.

"Ethically and morally for people who've experienced trauma, having a locking door can sometimes become the difference between accepting help getting off the street and making a step towards permanent supportive housing," Vansleve said.

The locked doors aren't the village's only form of security.

The entire village is surrounded by a tall fence lined with security cameras.

It's also guarded around the clock, and non-residents aren't allowed to enter the premises.

Hope of the Valley will begin welcoming Alexandria Park's first round of residents this week.

All of the village’s residents will be people who were previously homeless within a three-mile radius of Alexandria Park.

Source: Los Angeles Times

"There's always that fear in a community that if we have a homeless shelter, it will become a magnet for homeless people," Vansleve said. "It's just not true."

There's even already a waiting list for a spot inside the village.

All of the new residents' fabric goods, such as clothes and bedding, will be put inside of a heated chamber to kill any bed bugs.

They'll also receive three daily meals and access to social services provided the intention of lifting people out of homelessness and into more permanent housing solutions.

Alexandria Park isn't meant to serve as a permanent home for its residents, but more so a long-term "motel."

The goal is for occupants to stay for a few months, giving them time to "stabilize" and look for a home.

Despite these good intentions, Hope of the Valley has seen pushback from the public.

"The guys on the far-right are screaming at us saying, 'this is government money that you're spending on people, they're just the mentally ill or they're all drug addicts,'" Vansleve said.

"And those on the far-left are pushing back saying, 'these aren't houses, people need something better,'" Vansleve continued. "And then you have the NIMBYs [an acronym for 'Not In My Backyard']."

In response to this backlash, Vansleve says the team just shakes the criticism off: "We know what our mission is. We know what we're called to do, and that's what we do."


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