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Best Christmas Present for the Homeless: A Tiny House

Volunteers are building tiny houses as temporary shelters for the homeless. (Elvis Summers)
Volunteers are building tiny houses as temporary shelters for the homeless. (Elvis Summers)
December 24, 2015

LOS ANGELES - Volunteers in L.A. are racing today to finish building 10 tiny wooden houses to give to the homeless before Christmas. They're part of a group called "My Tiny House Project LA" a movement to build stop-gap shelters that is now active in San Diego and Oakland. The structures are just big enough to lie down inside.

They're on wheels so they're off the ground, and they feature a small window and a door that locks. Founder Elvis Summers places them wherever he can around town making a difference, one down-and-out person at a time.

"There's human beings out there in the cold that need help. It's the right thing to do," says Summers. "And it's Christmas. The best Christmas present would be for someone to step forward with land so we could build a small community, get the people warm and safe and off the street."

Summers built the first house for a homeless neighbor in April. His photos on Facebook went viral and it soon became his life's work. So far, he's raised $110,000 and is building them full time along with a team of volunteers.

California has 116,000 people living on the streets and only enough shelter beds to accommodate a third of them.

Homeless advocate Lisa Kogan just started a similar project in San Diego, but the first house was impounded by police last week and its new owner, a homeless man named "Red," was arrested for lodging without consent and encroaching on public property.

Kogan says she bailed Red out, they're getting the house back, and she hopes someone will donate land to put it on.

"This house wasn't just providing shelter, it provided hope for one person," says Kogan. "He loved it so much. He said that it was the first time he's had four walls and a roof over his head in a very long time."

If you'd like to help, both Summers and Kogan have pages on Facebook and the website Go Fund Me.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA