A 125-square-foot tiny house belonging to a formerly homeless man sits in a Seattle backyard. (Karen Ducey / For The Times)
To the editor: I really like this idea by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to build small homes in the backyards of owners who agree to take in the most stable of the 58,000 homeless people in the area. It is almost perfect. (“L.A. County wants to help build guest houses in backyards — for homeless people,” April 11)
First, it will be far cheaper than relying solely on the construction of larger supportive housing units. Second, less bureaucracy is involved. And finally, the homeless people who end up living in these neighborhood homes will more than likely feel a part of the community and maintain their new homes with pride.
If any problems with this idea exist, perhaps they will be from neighbors who feel unsettled by formerly homeless people living in nearby backyards. Although there would be no justifiable reason for worry, some people live by old stereotypes.
Kudos to Garcetti and the supervisors for their compassion and innovative thinking. I hope this idea succeeds and spreads to other areas.
Brian Miller, Los Angeles
To the editor: I was pleasantly surprised to read that others have had the same idea to exploit empty spaces that exist all over Los Angeles to help solve the homelessness problem by building inexpensive add-ons.
Currently, with a few others, I am building an experimental “tiny house” that will take a somewhat different approach to the problem. We are aiming to keep the cost of a 276-square-foot home to less than $10,000 and make it movable, but not like a trailer. Cost is the critical factor in housing homeless people.
Although our focus is on homeless veterans who we intend to challenge by giving them a plan and materials to build their own home that remains theirs, we can see where all of these solutions can help solve the problem.
William Bergmann, Hollywood
To the editor: Great idea. Now let’s start leading by example.
All elected officials, from the mayor and county supervisors on down, should be the first people to place these tiny houses on their properties. If it’s such a good idea, they should be first in line.
James Tyner, Venice
To the editor: I have been riding Metro’s Red Line subway to Hollywood every day for the last three months. Overall, my experience has been positive and quite different from some of the people who feel the presence of homeless people makes the taking the train less safe. (“Feelings of despair seeing L.A.’s homeless take shelter in Metro trains and stations,” Readers React, April 10)
The rides have have all been safe, as there are plenty of police and Metro security staff. They have been clean; in fact, I see Metro cleaners come through every day.
Yes, seeing homelessness and despair up close can be unsettling, but my overwhelming feeling is of impotence in the face of a significant problem. Reading about the social workers trying to connect with some of the people on the train gives me some hope, because I don’t think this problem will improve unless we are able to directly help people one by one.
It also gave me an opportunity to donate in support of the program, which I hope will grow beyond the Red Line to others. Hiding homelessness doesn’t make it go away.