Speaking to California television network KRON 4 this week on its program, “Inside California Politics,” Jenner said she wanted to get the homeless off the streets by finding “some open land” for them to pitch tents in.
“Venice Beach is destroyed,” Jenner said, telling host Frank Buckley about her recent visit to the area. “They’re destroying Venice Beach. They are destroying all the businesses out there.”
“We have to clean that up. We have to provide some place for those people to go, whether it’s an open field out in some place, or if you notice at the veteran’s facility, there’s these big open fields and a lot of places there,” Jenner added.
She reiterated her belief that homeless people were responsible for the crime rate going up.
“As governor, I would finish the wall on state land, where you can finish the wall. I think we need controlled immigration in this state. We need to know the people that are coming into this state,” she said.
“Here’s my crazy thinking,” Jenner said in the interview. “We are now spending billions of dollars on this high-speed rail, OK, and they talk about it all the time, between LA and San Francisco. And I’m going, ‘Why are we doing that?’ I can get on a plane at LAX, and I’ll be in San Francisco in 50 minutes. Why do we need high-speed rail?”
She was referring to an in-progress public transportation project that stands to connect people from Anaheim and Los Angeles to San Francisco via a three-hour train ride.
In the same interview, Jenner also mentioned that a friend whose airplane hangar was near hers was leaving California because he “can’t walk down the streets and see the homeless.”
City officials first scouted the teardrop-shaped infill lot when they were looking for a place to build “bridge” homes, or shelters meant to aid in finding unhoused residents a permanent home.
Now, 43 residents call the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village their (temporary) home, just a few months after the community’s February grand opening.
Lehrer Architects, which designed the tiny home community with the city’s Bureau of Engineering, had a $3.49 million budget for the project. But foundational work – including street leveling and sewer lines – became the most expensive component of the project.
Despite this cost, the beta project’s shelters “add real value” to the once vacant lot, according to Lehrer Architects.
After being temperature checked by a guard at the entrance of the community, I walked past a series of lockers into the fenced village.
The lockers are meant to secure the residents’ items that aren’t allowed inside of the village, whether it be drugs or personal defense weapons, Vansleve told me while we toured the Alexandria Park location.
An outdoor smoking area and the restroom facilities with showers sit right across from the entrance.
From there, I turned the corner and was immediately greeted by the line-up of tiny homes, an outdoor seating area, and shipping container-like buildings.
The shipping container-like buildings make up the communal facilities, which include a laundry room. It’s also where the case workers are located.
The village also offers its residents three meals a day here.
The outdoor communal tables are located right next to these facilities and in front of the small dog park, which sits at the center of the village.
Surrounding these public amenities are the tiny homes.
Several of these tiny homes have already been personalized with flowers, flags, and posters.
Each tiny home has an entry door that can be locked, a luxury some of the residents might not have had prior.
“Achieving this level of privacy and security is not possible in a traditional shelter,” Michael Lehrer and Nerin Kadribegovic, Lehrer Architects’ founding partner and partner, respectively, told Insider in an email interview in February. “The evocation of a child’s drawing of a ‘house’ and even Monopoly’s homes reinforces the idea of ‘home.'”
The interior has all of the basic amenities needed to live in a tiny home in Los Angeles, including a bed, a heater …
… an air conditioning unit, windows, shelves, and a desk.
The units were all created by Washington-based Pallet, which specializes in creating prefab tiny homes that can be quickly assembled to create homes for people who may have been unhoused due to natural or personal disasters.
“What we felt was really missing from the housing spectrum was a dignified shelter option that honored their individuality and allowed them to have autonomy in their rehabilitation process,” Amy King, founder and CEO of Pallet, told Insider in January.
However, it wasn’t the community’s bright colors that caught my attention. It was the people.
The village’s residents were friendlier than my own neighbors: almost every person I walked by smiled and said “hello.”
And before I left, I had a chat with someone in the village who told me about their daughter, son in college, and interest in other cultures.
The conversation reminded me of something Vansleve told me during our chat at the new Alexandria Park location: “I look at people on the street [in their late 60s, early 70s] and some of them could be my mum. They’ve experienced incredible amounts of trauma and they’re left on the street. I think it’s a moral issue.”
Think of Chandler Street Tiny Home Village as a transitioning place for its residents.
The goal of the village, and Hope of the Valley’s upcoming sites, is to provide its residents with stability and a temporary home while helping them eventually transition into more permanent housing.
When a new resident arrives, the community’s employees, which include case workers, will help the new individual with a list of personal needs.
“Here it’s more supportive, more in-depth,” Priscilla Rodriguez, a case manager at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village, told Insider. “When somebody comes in, they could be at the very beginning.”
From there, case workers will help the residents receive necessary paperwork like an ID, a social security card, or a birth certificate.
The team will also help its residents find income. This could be unemployment benefits at first, but will hopefully lead to a job or Supplemental Security Income.
The case workers even help with life skills, which could include teaching them how to keep their tiny homes clean or encouraging them to bathe everyday.
Workers will also connect the residents to doctors and physicians for both mental and physical healthcare.
“Some of them wanted to bring their tents into their home because they’re not used to coming out of that setting and transitioning back into permanent housing,” Rodriguez said.
This is the “transition” case workers like Rodriguez are trying to help with.
“They are going to be housed on their own one day, and we want to help support them in every way so that way when they get there, they feel confident to be there and to keep that house on their own,” Rodriguez said.
The program lasts for 90 days, but can be extended for an additional 90 days if they find the resident is making good headway and improvements, and is “actively working” with the case managers to meet goals.
“All we need from them is just to connect with us,” Rodriguez said. “Just tell us what you need.”
Every resident in this current batch has already received an extension because the village and program is so new. But moving forward, the goal is for residents to meet the 90-day timeline.
Each resident gets to dictate the pace at which they move, and right now, many of them are showing “tremendous progress.”
The majority of the 43 residents currently being housed at the Chandler site are on track to be housed independently, which is the ultimate goal of the program.
“We really are showing that the program is working,” Rodriguez said.
In order to qualify for a bed at the village, an outreach worker, often from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, has to verify that the potential resident is homeless and resides within a few miles of the village.
The Chandler site has been so popular there’s already a waitlist for the beds.
The team will accept anyone into the village, even if they have substance abuse or mental health issues, physical disabilities, or legal problems.
“We’re just people who were trying to help these participants better their life,” Rodriguez said. “They’re not trying to harm the community in any way, they’re trying to get themselves back into that community.”
And despite the ongoing pandemic, the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village hasn’t had any COVID-19 outbreaks.
The tiny homes each typically shelter up to two people, but due to the virus, only couples are allowed to share a unit.
And every one to two weeks, the village offers COVID-19 testing on-site.
Several residents have already received their first round of vaccines as well.
Many of the residents have also been complying with face mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitizing protocols, according to Rodriguez.
Despite the work Chandler Street is doing for the homeless community, the program has experienced some protests and hecklers.
The hecklers “just want to cause a scene saying we’ve got drug addicts and criminals in here,” according to Rodriguez.
“It’s sad to see the pushback because any one of us could be here at any point,” Rodriguez said. “You never know what it’s gonna take to make you homeless, especially during a covid year.”
Despite this, the village and its program has so far been a success, and has already attracted international attention.
As a “test case” for future tiny home communities, and since most residents are on track to be permanently housed, the concept has served as an inspiration for people around the world.
The Chandler site has even seen out-of-country visitors who have been interested in incorporating a similar idea in their own city or state.
“It’s making a big impact,” Rodriguez said. “They see that we have had a lot of success with this program, so I definitely see it expanding … hopefully all over the country and in other nations as well.”
Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis has been quietly brewing for several years now.
To address this issue, nonprofit Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission has opened two colorful tiny home villages in the city this year: Chandler Street and the newer Alexandria Park.
The villages aren’t meant to house millennial tourists or trendy minimalists interested in tiny living.
Instead, the two communities were built to temporarily house Los Angeles’ unhoused residents.
This serves as an alternative to “congregate” shelters that can often be more expensive and less time-efficient to construct.
The goal of Hope of the Valley’s tiny house program is to help its residents find a permanent home by the end of their stay.
The program starts at 90 days with the option to extend for an additional three months depending on the progress of the resident, Priscilla Rodriguez, a caseworker at the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village, told Insider.
The two villages are about two miles away from each other and were opened only two months apart.
The first tiny home village on Chandler Blvd. (pictured below), opened in February as a “test case” for Los Angeles, Rowan Vansleve, CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, told Insider.
The North Hollywood-based community has 40 tiny homes and 75 beds, but as of now, only couples are allowed to share a unit due to COVID-19 protocols.
So far, the program has been a success, according to Rodriguez.
The village’s on-site caseworkers help the residents with a variety of tasks, from obtaining a social security card, to finding income, to teaching them life skills, such as how to keep their tiny homes clean.
“Some people come here and they’re used to being in a tent and not having their own space,” Rodriguez said. “They’re going to be housed one day on their own, and we want to support them in every way so when they get there, they feel confident to be there and to keep that house on their own.”
Many of the residents at this first site have already made “huge progress,” and the majority of the community’s 43 occupants are already on track to be housed independently, according to Rodriguez.
Now, Hope of the Valley is looking to continue this success with its latest tiny home community just a short drive away from the original Chandler site.
The new Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village is the largest tiny home community in California, according to the nonprofit.
The new site, which is also located in North Hollywood, is over double the size of the original Chandler location with 103 tiny homes and 200 beds.
The new community will begin welcoming its first round of residents this week.
The Alexandria Park and Chandler Street sites are both filled with 64-square-foot shelters made by Washington-based Pallet, which specializes in building tiny homes for people who have been unhoused due to natural or personal disasters.
Like any typical home, the shelters have a lockable entry door.
A locking door may seem like a no-brainer for most people, but many of the communities’ residents may not have previously had this security measure.
This sense of privacy and security isn’t possible in a “traditional” congregate shelter, Michael Lehrer and Nerin Kadribegovic, Lehrer Architects’ founding partner and partner, respectively, told Insider in an email interview in February. Lehrer Architects designed the Chandler site with the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering.
“Ethically and morally for people who’ve experienced trauma, having a locking door can sometimes become the difference between accepting help getting off the street and making a step towards permanent supportive housing,” Rowan Vansleve, CFO of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, told Insider.
A 64-square-foot space may seem small, but it has enough room to accommodate all of the unit’s amenities, which include temperature controls like an air conditioner and heater …
… lights that can be used when the four windows don’t provide enough natural brightness …
… and outlets.
The beds are topped with a navy blue duvet, which is meant to invoke a calm feeling, according to Vansleve.
There’s also a small desk, a smoke detector for an added layer of security …
… and storage space underneath the bed frames.
The new Alexandria Park tiny homes also come with toiletries bags customized for men and women.
Several of the new shelters’ furnishings are sourced from Hope of the Valley’s five donation and thrift shops located throughout the greater Los Angeles region.
Several residents who have been living at the Chandler location have already made themselves at home with plants, posters, and artwork.
The tiny homes either come with one or two beds, and some of the single-bed units have enough space to accommodate a wheelchair.
The shelters don’t have room for a private restroom, but both communities have shared individual bathrooms that each come with a sink, toilet, and shower.
Same goes for laundry, which can be done at the sites’ communal laundry facilities.
Pallet’s shelters typically have a lifespan of over 10 years, and the units can be easily disassembled and reassembled, according to Pallet.
But external costs such as sewage, electricity, and internet bumped the cost of each bed at the Alexandria Park location up to about $43,000.
“It doesn’t feel like a homeless shelter, it feels like a launching pad,” Vansleve said about the Alexandria Park Tiny Home Village. “As you walk through, it almost has a college dorm sort of vibe to it, which is exciting.”
A lawsuit aimed at forcing New York City to provide WiFi for students in homeless shelters is moving forward to trial.
US District Judge Alison Nathan ruled last week that the class-action suit brought by homeless parents and the Coalition of the Homeless would proceed to expedited discovery in preparation for a trial.
“Without internet connectivity, homeless students are deprived of the means to attend classes,” Nathan wrote in the opinion that accompanied the decision. “And because homeless children who lack internet access and reside in New York City shelters cannot attend school for as long as that deprivation exists, the City bears a duty, under the statute, to furnish them with the means necessary for them to attend school.”
Some homeless students are still unable to access the internet from a shelter more than nine months since Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced remote learning on March 15, 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. New York City schools have approximately 114,000 homeless students according to an Advocates for Children report cited by the judge.
The city’s original plan was to provide iPads with unlimited cellular data to students without access to WiFi, first partnering with T-Mobile. After students weren’t able to access T-Mobile service in many shelters, the city switched to Verizon, but some students continued to be unable to connect to school.
On October 26, 2020 Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would install WiFi in all shelters, but officials cautioned this wouldn’t be complete until the summer of 2021.
“It should come as no surprise that the City lacked any real legal basis to prevent this lawsuit from proceeding,” said Susan Horwitz, supervising attorney of the education law project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in a press release.
“Despite months of pushing the City to address the root cause of the problem, City Hall continues to advance ineffective solutions while families in shelters suffer. We look forward to seeing all shelters equipped with working WiFi, far in advance of the city’s stated goal of summer 2021.”
City officials said they are working to get Wifi to students in shelters.
“The court’s decision indicates that the city has worked hard to provide internet connectivity to the plaintiffs and is continuing to do so,” Paolucci, the spokesperson of New York City’s Law Department, wrote to Law & Crime.
Paolucci has not yet responded to Insider’s request for comment.