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TINY CITIES FOR L.A.’S HOMELESS

Family Promise of the South Bay

Non-profit organization

Individualized cargo containers, stacked on empty lots, will provide chronic and temporarily homeless people with a place to live, as well as space for the resources they need to survive and succeed.



What does your organization do?

We are working to build tiny cities for the homeless through our partners: a refurbisher of cargo containers, the architecture group at LATTC, and the director of an agency that serves the homeless.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

Our group would like to activate the idea of Tiny Cities to solve the homeless crisis in Los Angeles County. We have been talking to City and County personnel and pitching this idea to a variety of groups but have never been able to show it to anyone.

This grant would allow us to build an actual small location to convince government and communities that this idea is a real solution to the homeless problem.

Which of the live metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Housing affordability
  • Number of households below the self-sufficiency standard
  • Rates of homelessness

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to live?

Tiny Cities LA:

A holistic solution to solving the homeless crisis today

Tiny Cities LA, in conjunction with its partners — ModPod Solutions; Dept of Architecture & Design, Los Angeles Trade Technical College; and Nick Rasmussen, Executive Director of Family Promise of the South Bay — intends to build Tiny Cities (“TC’s”) throughout Los Angeles County.

The team will utilize volunteers to identify vacant land in all sizes throughout the County, and to determine ownership. Small parcels that are geographically close to other vacant land would allow resources to be spread among the TC’s within close proximity of each other. Public transportation corridors, particularly LA Metro, are ideal building areas, and legislation pending in Sacramento relative to building along public transportation corridors may facilitate this project.

Our homeless agency partner will be instrumental in helping to determine the homeless needs in each community: chronic? drug, alcohol, other mental illness? temporarily homeless families? need education or employment skills? skilled but without employment?

LATTC design students have drawn the ideal TC space, with the number of residents on approximately ½ block equaling 96. Resources will fit the population, with nutritional food being primary in every community.

For the chronically homeless, access to mental health and basic medical services are likely important. Families may need educational and vocational counseling, access to computers, and creative “maker-spaces.” All of these would be undertaken with experts in the field and with engaged community volunteers.

The cargo containers themselves will have a basic living space layout; these can be modified easily for the number of people to be housed in a unit. Architectural students have developed vertical trellises, kinetic canopies for roof gardens, 3D printing recycled fences and tensegrity towers to create, identify and help the energy network in some of their designs. All TC’s will utilize renewable energy and sustainable solutions to the maximum extent possible.

Units have air conditioning and heating, can be designed back-to-back or multi-layered to provide for more living space, and only have to be hooked up to water to be functional. Pumping the black water is the only on-going maintenance. Units on the ground floor will meet ADA accessibility standards.

The LATTC design team has worked for over 10 years developing this idea, with partnerships in architecture, engineering and construction, as well as product manufacture.

Building in costs for stairs, painting, landscaping and other creative aspects, it is estimated that 2 people could be housed for $100,000.

The LA2050 grant would allow our team to build a prototype in the County that would clearly show the integrity of this concept. ModPod Solutions, the cargo container provider, will adapt its costs to assure that one resource unit and one housing unit can be built on the designated TC#1.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to live

Our project intends to engage the 50-60,000 homeless individuals in the County so we design the exteriors and interiors of these spaces to meet their needs and lifestyle. Our vision is to place people in a Tiny City that best meets their personal needs, whether they are chronically homeless and need to move around, or whether they are temporarily homeless and need a stable family environment for a period of time while they get back on their feet.

We want to engage neighborhoods where we select the empty lots so residents can be helped to feel comfortable about the project; and we want to use volunteers in each community to help with the resource offering and the maintenance of the premises. We plan to reach out to homeless agencies within each community to determine how best to engage and utilize these citizens.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

If we are successful in building a prototype in any community, the project will be successful. This will show that we can secure the land and permitting, and we can engage the community in supporting the project. Once we have built one, others will want to implement this idea!

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

We hope to be providing low cost housing throughout Los Angeles County, wherever there is vacant land, to eradicate the homeless problem and alleviate the cost of housing for struggling families.


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