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Letters to the Editor: Why ‘tiny homes’ won’t work for housing thousands of homeless people in L.A.

A resident of a "tiny home" village in Riverside walks to the common shower area on Nov. 30.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: While I am accepting of the need for temporary shelter for homeless individuals, the “tiny homes” concept is not a cost-effective way to achieve it.

Multi-unit construction with common walls and perhaps a second story are cheaper to build, air condition and maintain. They also require less land. Think college dorm units, with individual locking bedroom areas and shared bathroom, kitchen and outdoor facilities.

Cost-effective solutions might also include conversion of existing malls and empty businesses to a dorm-type shelter.

Finally, it is notable that the dignity of homeless people is emphasized, and yet it is OK to keep nursing home residents in shared rooms with shared bathrooms. Not a safe, respectful or dignified situation for them, is it?

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Danella Donlan, Palm Springs

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To the editor: Twelve years ago, I worked at a Los Angeles city water reclamation plant. We decided we needed shelter for our one-person, 24-hour security.

The structure needed enough room only for two people, so it would be small. It would have internet and electric access but no water and sewer connections. When I inquired about the cost, I was told it was around $50,000.

Once the prefabricated structure was installed, a Building and Safety inspector came out and told us we needed a concrete wheelchair access ramp with curbing to the sliding door. We tried to explain that the plant had proper access for wheelchairs, and that no one in a wheelchair would approach the guard house.

Needless to say, we installed the access ramp to the door with the required curbing. We then passed inspection. The final cost of the small guard house after all the work was close to the “tiny home” price of $130,000.

The thing is, soon after that I got a report that one of the guards had tripped over the curbing while leaving the guard house.

Douglas Bohlmann, La Habra

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To the editor: Seeing the photo of rows of tiny homes for unhoused people made me sad. I am reminded of rows of barracks at displaced persons camps and military bases, unrelieved by any greenery.

Is there not a way to site the homes in a more organic, humane configuration? Trees? Community vegetable gardens? A tiny garden plot outside a front door? A window box?

For $130,000, I’ll bet there are communities where one could buy a condo with a balcony and have access to green space.

Toby Horn, Los Angeles


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