Tiny homes community opens in North Hollywood, offering second chance for people battling homelessness

The first tiny homes community in Los Angeles opened on Monday, offering 39 homes and 75 beds for people experiencing homelessness.

The community on Chandler is for homeless people living within a three-mile radius of the facility. It is run by Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.

Eleven people moved into the facility on Monday, and around 11 more will move in Tuesday until the facility is full. One of the first people to move in was Alexandria Shore. She shared her story with FOX 11.

"I'm from New York. I left an abusive relationship, a three-year long abusive relationship, and ended up out on the streets out here because I was running. It was very hard to get help because I was from out of state. I didn't know where anything was. I didn't know anybody. My whole family is 3,000 miles away," said Shore.

Shore said the community gives her hope.

"This gives me a place to stay clean, a place to sleep, a place to think. Services that I can get help with getting medical and it's like everything's here. I don't have to think, 'How am I going to come up with $5 to wash my clothes today?' So I don't walk around dirty or where is a shower and if I travel all the way to the shower, am I going to have enough time to make money to eat and get food? Getting into one of the units and being actually the first one. It was just incredible. I'm really grateful," she said.

Shores talked about the difficulty of living on the streets.

"It's really hard on the streets because a lot of people forget that you're human. They won't even look you in the eyes. They walk right past you like you don't exist and it's really difficult. You start to feel hopeless and overwhelmed. In God's eyes, we're all the same and someday, we'll all have perfect wings so just remember that just because you're well off today, doesn't mean that tomorrow your whole world couldn't come crashing down and if there's no one there to help you, you're on your own and that's a very scary place," said Shores.

Ken Craft, the founder and CEO of the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, said their goal is to get people the help and resources they need.

"This site has everything anybody will need who's trying to end their homelessness. We have case managers who work with our clients to help them, and ask do you have your birth certificate, do you have a state ID, do you have a social security card? We have housing navigators that are out in the community identifying suitable housing and right up the street, we have our navigation center where we work with clients to help them get jobs. Once they get here, everything that they need will be provided to them," said Craft.

Craft said the facility offers three meals per day and hygiene trailers along with washers and dryers. It is the first step towards permanent housing.

"Our goal is anyone who comes here within four to six months, we will be able to place them into permanent housing. Councilman Paul Krekorian is a champion and he's a fighter for what's right and so he has really led the way here in his council district to provide housing for the homeless," said Craft.

Currently, the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has nine shelters with 500-plus beds and will have 1,100 beds this year after purchasing five more tiny home communities.

"We are in a crisis right now. We are in a homeless epidemic. Working with the city and then also working in private enterprise, we're able to have a public, private partnership to really make an impact and my hope and my prayer to reduce the number of people living on the streets here in Los Angeles," said Craft.

The facility has a nine-foot fence and video surveillance along with a security guard. The residents are not allowed to have alcohol, weapons or drugs at the facility, and there is a curfew. The residents can bring up to three large bags with them, and there is storage on-site as well.

"Instead of just surviving, now they can start living and start planning for tomorrow so in short, hope begins right here," said Craft.

Officials from District 2 were looking for plots of land that the city owned in order to build the development.

"When they identified this site [on Chandler], they then took it to the Bureau of Engineering and the City of Los Angeles, designed the layout of the tiny homes," he said.

Craft said the tiny homes can be installed in an hour and a half.  

"This is an immediate, innovative solution to address the homeless crisis. To get people off the streets, stabilize them until we can get them into permanent housing. When they come here, we do develop a case plan and they have housing navigators so usually within four to six months, we are able to place them into permanent housing," said Craft.

There is a waiting list to be accepted into the new facility. However, in April, another tiny homes community will open near Alexandria Park. It will be the largest tiny home community in Los Angeles with more than 100 homes and 200 beds.

"The goal to me is to have a Starbucks model. There is not one Starbucks in Van Nuys where everybody goes. Instead, there are Starbucks everywhere. I believe for us to address this homeless crisis, we need a Starbucks approach and we need homeless and outreach facilities and centers throughout the city where every community helps with the load to lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty and homelessness," said Craft.

It costs around $7,500 for each tiny home. The entire project including capital improvements, invested by the City of Los Angeles, cost about $3.2 million with a cost of about $64,000 per bed, according to Craft. The Los Angeles Housing Authority manages the funding.

The site offers mental health and drug addiction services for those who are in need.

"We realize when people come here that they have challenges and they have obstacles and they have barriers that are preventing them from being housed and oftentimes, whole. We will provide mental health services and we will provide substance abuse counseling. We will bend over backwards to work with people but if ultimately someone has no desire to help themselves then they may not be a perfect fit or the right fit for this facility and in that case, we will try and find them another facility that is more suitable for their life and the choices they're making," said Craft.

Craft said there are about 70,00 homeless people living in the Greater Los Angeles area currently, but there are concerns about the number growing during the pandemic and if the eviction moratorium is lifted. 

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