LOS ANGELES - Many Highland Park residents are up-in-arms about a homeless shelter coming to their neighborhood. The city broke ground on the newest tiny home community Tuesday morning.
The tiny home communities have a full-time security guard checking people’s bags and making sure drugs, alcohol and weapons do not come in.
Still, many residents who have been paying property taxes to live in really nice homes in this beautiful neighborhood don’t want a homeless shelter here. They feel they’ve been blind-sided by this with no say in the matter.
Despite their concerns, construction has officially started for the largest tiny home community in the country. The lot of land will house 224 homeless people in the area.
It's one of six tiny home communities already built in the greater Los Angeles area that Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has helped implement.
"It’s a solution that gives people dignity. I’ve been doing this work for 20 years and I’ve never met a woman on the street who is not a victim of violence," said Rowan Vansleve, CEO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. "So being able to bring them in and give them a locking door and that sense of security, it’s a game-changer."
Each tiny home can house two people and costs about $22,000 to build, with free showers, food, even a dog park.
Councilmen Bob Blumenfield and Kevin de Leon camped at the tiny home community in Tarzana Monday night before breaking ground on this one coming to Highland Park in early September.
"Not only providing a roof over the person’s head instead of a tent but providing all the services that will make a successful change for that person in our community."
"I think that sounds like a good idea. They’ve got to live somewhere," said Highland Park resident Josh Schafernak.
But many residents in the neighborhood are very upset by it, like 81-year-old Yolanda Molina who says her home has been broken into several times.
"Homeless jump into my property and tons of trash, rats, roaches and suspicious people selling drugs," Molina said. "I came here legally and I worked all my life. I paid my taxes like him, like everybody else. It’s not fair… Instead of building shelters, work, work, that’s what they need to do."
"Lots of places east of downtown that are wide open and unused that are not being looked at and I’m also not understanding why they’re being put in a deeply residential and old neighborhood like this, one that’s historic and that has been around for a long, long time," said resident Mark Forbes. "I think we are all, many neighbors are quite upset that we’re being told about this quite after the fact with no say in this."
Instead of building them shelters, Molina says they need to put the homeless to work.
Skeptics, including Highland Park residents, are invited to an open house this weekend at the tiny home community in Tarzana to see what they’re really going to be like in your backyard.
Details are on HopeoftheValley.org.
These are not built to be a "forever home" for homeless people, but rather a 3-month, transitional housing for them to get necessary treatment, a job and home of their own.
Residents against the Highland Park tiny home community homeless shelter created a Change.org petition.