$50,000 and growing: Donors give to tiny homes for L.A.'s homeless

More than $50,000 has been donated to a South Los Angeles man who is looking to build more tiny homes on wheels like the one he constructed for a 60-year-old homeless woman.

Elvis Summers started his donation campaign for “Smokie,” a grandmother who was homeless and sleeping in dirt. Hoping to give “Smokie” shelter and a reasonable place to sleep, Summers gathered wood, shingles, a window and a door to create a tiny home.

People driving by as he built the home on an L.A. street, he said, asked him whether he was charging rent. But he said, “Money cannot buy the purpose of this house because it can only be paid for by love.”

After building the home, he handed “Smokie” a set of keys to her new place and she hung a “Home Sweet Home” sign on her front door.


Summers filmed the entire construction process and his interaction with “Smokie,” later posting the video to YouTube on April 23. “Smokie” was excited by the gesture and did a short dance.

More than 5.3 million people have seen the video, and $53,217 in donations have gone to his Tiny House, Huge Purpose project.

Summers is hoping to build more tiny homes for homeless people throughout Los Angeles.

“Being homeless is not a crime. The true crime is how we as human beings look at and treat people that are homeless,” Summers said.


His project, he said, has gained volunteers and donated materials.

It is unclear who would enforce rules for these homes.

The home is so small that it wouldn’t need required permits if built on private property, said Luke Zamperini, spokesman for the L.A. Building and Safety Department.

“He may have solved a great mystery for these people: Build a box on wheels,” he said.


LAPD says as long as the home is not parked on city streets and it’s mobile, it should be fine.

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