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‘Stunned at the price tag,’ L.A. councilman asks city to study cost of tiny home villages

A resident of a  tiny home village in Riverside walks to the common shower area
A resident of the tiny home village in Riverside walks to the common shower area in November.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles councilman Tuesday introduced a motion asking city agencies to find ways to reduce the costs of building “tiny home” villages to house homeless people.

Councilman Paul Koretz said he was “stunned at the price tag” reported by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday for the city’s first tiny home project, being built in North Hollywood at a cost of $130,000 for each 8-by-8-foot shelter,

Koretz said he was exploring locations for tiny homes in his Westside district, but thought the cost and structural requirements of the city’s six currently approved villages would preclude those plans.

One of the requirements — concrete pads for each structure — “will probably make this a nonstarter at every location we have looked at,” he said. “With a couple of the property owners, we tried to sell the fact that they can just be picked up and moved and a couple days later you would never know they were there.”

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The city is considering tiny homes, sometimes called Pallet shelters, as one solution to providing 6,700 new shelter beds to settle a federal lawsuit alleging it is not doing enough to get homeless people off the streets.

Given that goal, Koretz’s motion said, “the city should be looking for ways to fashion a more economical solution.”

“We envisioned this as housing going on pallets and all being done inexpensively,” he said in an interview. “While we’d love to provide more amenities for people experiencing homelessness, I think we’d prefer getting more people sheltered.”

The motion asks the city administrative officer, the Bureau of Engineering, the Department of Building and Safety and any other relevant departments and agencies to “develop alternatives which can bring the per unit cost down to the $17,000-22,000 range cited in The Times report that other California communities have been able to utilize the same equipment for in service of the same purpose.”

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That could be accomplished, it said, by “reduced construction costs, alternative approaches to structural stability and safety, pared-down amenities, permit and fee waivers, and involvement of village residents in maintenance and operational tasks when feasible and appropriate.”

The council referred the motion, which asks for a report in 30 days, to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee for consideration after the holiday recess.


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