Man provides tiny houses to homeless Irene "Smokie" McGhee, a woman who had been sleeping on the streets in a South Los Angeles neighborhood, listens to music on the doorway of her newly built tiny home. Elvis Summers appears at left (AP photos)
Man provides tiny houses to homeless
Lexile

After Elvis Summers built a tiny house on wheels for a woman who had been sleeping on the streets, he launched a crowdfunding campaign on the internet. The idea was to get money to construct similar shelters for other homeless people in his neighborhood. He lives in South Los Angeles.

He had no grand ambitions. He just wanted to lend a helping hand. In Los Angeles, thousands of residents are without roofs over their heads.

"Honestly I thought I'd raise enough money to help a dozen people, call it a day. And then go back to stressing about my job," said the 38-year-old. He runs an online apparel store.

Summers never thought more than 5.6 million people would watch a YouTube video of him constructing the 8-foot-long house. He built it for "Smokie." She is a grandmother who's been homeless for more than a decade. He estimates he spent less than $500 on plywood, shingles, a window and a door. The video ends with Smokie doing a little jig. She hangs up a "Home Sweet Home" sign.

The GoFundMe campaign is called Tiny House, Huge Purpose. It has brought in nearly $60,000. That's in less than a month. And Summers' inbox is overflowing. He has received offers for help from carpenters, homeless advocates and retirees. And even children as young as 6.

Now Summers, who sports a blue mohawk and wraparound shades, suddenly considers himself a man with a mission. He has started a nonprofit. He also has reached out to Los Angeles officials. He wants to get the city involved in his plan to build more tiny homes for transients.

"People are calling it a movement," he said. "I'm humbled. But now I can't turn my back on it."

Builders said they would donate materials. Contractors offered to help in the design of the small wheeled structures. And chefs said they would to bring food to the construction sites.

Summers said he wants to hire homeless people to help with the construction. Smokie said she would be the first person to sign up.

"I'm ready to start building," she said. "Give people a good night's rest. Someplace warm."

It is unclear if the city would enforce rules for these homes. Smokie said police have told her she won't be bothered as long as she regularly moves the home. It is small enough to fit in a parking space. It could be moved about every three days.

The structure is so small that it wouldn't require permits if built on private property, said Luke Zamperini. He is the spokesman for the city Building and Safety department.

"We do not consider it a dwelling or a building as it does not meet the definition of either," Zamperini said.

Critical thinking challenge: How can a tiny house have a huge purpose?

Assigned 40 times


COMMENTS (15)
  • ShecklenZ-Sua
    5/12/2015 - 12:42 p.m.

    A tiny house has a huge purpose because it is a place where people can sleep .

    1. homeless people need homes and they built them.

    2. homeless people need a place to go and they go in the tiny house.

    3. and they can move it to places so that they dont get in trouble

  • GavinB-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 03:20 p.m.

    see this is the person i want to grow up to be i want to follow after his footsteps because this man or Elvis is a perfect roll model.

  • GavinB-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 03:21 p.m.

    see this is the person i want to grow up to be i want to follow after his footsteps because this man or Elvis is a perfect roll model.

  • John0724-YYCA
    5/12/2015 - 07:00 p.m.

    It is very nice for him to build houses for homeless and raised a charity for the homeless because in Los Angeles have so many homeless right now taking up the sidewalk and scattering trash all over the ground which causes pollution. The Elvis Summers guy is really cool because he looks like one of those gangsters who would trash the whole place and then literally destroy it instead of helping the homeless which would hep them and the us.

  • emrar-boo
    5/13/2015 - 11:08 a.m.

    A tiny has a huge purpose because it's able to provide homeless with a home. They could start a new life without worrying about having a roof over their head. We all need a place to call home and people like Elvis have probably went through a time where they didn't have everything and he is able to feel these people and provide them with life.

  • sydneya-Smi
    5/14/2015 - 10:30 a.m.

    I think that what he is doing is good. I think it has a huge purpose because this is good what he is doing for homeless people and now they have a house instead of a street to live on keep up the good work.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    5/18/2015 - 09:52 p.m.

    Wow, that man is really nice to homeless people about this. This is really kind, and generous of the man, and I have never ever heard about people doing something amazing and generous just like that. So far, this is the only person I have ever seen that had helped the homeless people. I wonder how much people that kind man helped. I hope that he helps other homeless people, not that I'm pressuring him and force him to do it, of course. I wonder if he likes helping people instead of his other stressing job. I wonder if helping homeless people might just be his new job? But anyways, this wonderful man is just like well... he will give up anything just to help the homeless people. I hope I will be generous just like that when I'm old enough like the man.

  • annabel1226-yyca
    5/19/2015 - 07:10 p.m.

    Elvis Summers is a really nice person to make a tiny house for a homeless woman. And now people are helping Elvis by making tiny houses for homeless people. But if people purposely becomes homeless people so they could just get free tiny houses then what is it useful? Also what is their is thousand of tiny houses in United States it will not look good.

    Critical thinking challenge: How can a tiny house have a huge purpose?
    Answer: It could make homeless people happy.

  • carlosr-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    your a hero to the homeless hope you do something good and your cool.:)

  • carlosr-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 10:32 a.m.

    your a hero to the homeless hope you do something good and your cool.:)

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