California school children help build tiny homes for LA's homeless

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[August 29, 2017]  By Jane Ross

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles man who has spent more than two years building tiny, portable homes to help house the city's homeless population recruited a group of fourth and fifth grade children to aid his mission.

Elvis Summers, 40, has built dozens of compact one-room homes on wheels. For his latest construction, a 28-foot-by-8- foot home, he has teamed up with a group of more than 100 children, aged 9 to 11, from a local charter school.

Mariposa Robles, 10, sawed planks of wood, installed floor insulation and helped raise the plywood walls of a tiny house. Around 135 children have been involved with the project, working in shifts over a year.

"It's so amazing seeing it all come together," an excited Robles told Reuters.

Robles' school, Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School in Castaic, California, reached out to Summers to help build houses and has raised almost $6,000 of a $19,00 target through crowd-funding website GoFundMe to finish the home.

Los Angeles' homeless population is estimated at about 58,000, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

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Tiny house builder Elvis Summers (middle) stands inside the shell of a tiny house he is building for a homeless veteran with some of the children helping him build it, (L-R) Jordan Diem, Sam Diem, Elvis Summers, Skyler Hewitt (top) and McKenna Hewitt in Santa Clarita, California, U.S. on August 2, 2017. Picture taken August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jane Ross

Even as American cities grapple with a chronic shortage of affordable housing, as well as budget constraints on social programs, many municipalities across the United States have also been clamping down on homeless encampments.

Summers said that because the tiny house is built on wheels from an old trailer, it is legally considered a recreational vehicle, "which allows more flexibility in where they can be placed."

(Reporting by Jane Ross for Reuters TV)

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