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 to construct similar shelters for other homeless people in his South Los Angeles neighborhood.

He had no grand ambitions beyond lending a helping hand in a city with thousands of residents 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, who 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 for "Smokie," 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 and hanging up a "Home Sweet Home" sign.

The GoFundMe campaign called Tiny House, Huge Purpose has brought in nearly $60,000 in less than a month. And Summers' inbox is overflowing with offers for help from carpenters, homeless advocates, retirees and 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 and reached out to Los Angeles officials 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 moves the home, which is small enough to fit in a parking space, every three days.

And the structure is so small that it wouldn't require permits if built on private property, said Luke Zamperini, 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 25 times


COMMENTS (41)
  • hopeb-Goo
    5/12/2015 - 09:23 a.m.

    A tiny house can have a huge purpose because this man has been helping the homeless to help them get back on their feet. The man has made a huge success in this project. The poor people are thankful for having people that care a lot about others and that are thinking to help others in need.

  • jocelync-Koc
    5/12/2015 - 10:18 a.m.

    I like this article so far and what Summers is doing to help out his town in Los Angeles and maybe this movement can move to Las Vegas. Vegas is another place where we need to help each other out and get those back on their feet and have again an opportunity like us. This reminds me of a friend that i go to church with where he is selling " FACE IT" shirts to support people in rural areas that aren't meeting the financial needs for their family. I feel like its no taking one person to recognize another and that's great that the world is some what changing!

  • tylerh-Goo
    5/12/2015 - 10:21 a.m.

    The story states that tiny houses are a big help to people in need.The house on wheels for the homeless has made one person a hero for some because he is giving them a home to live in for free.

  • danielv-Goo
    5/12/2015 - 10:26 a.m.

    Homeless people don't deserve to be treated like trash just because they're homeless. They deserve something nice to remember how their life used to be. The text states "He estimates he spent less than $500 on plywood, shingles, a window and a door. " The text also states "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." People are willing to help out the homeless by building the tiny houses and having made food for the workers and the homeless.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    5/12/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    This is an amazing thing to read about. The title of this article doesn't do this act of kindness justice. It is truly amazing to read about how dedicated people are to making others feel better.

  • DamienQ-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    i think that what summer did was really nice he has all that time to make little houses for the homeless and he is doing it because he just wanted help in construction.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    5/12/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    This is so cool because people, no matter who they are, don't deserve to be homeless. It's about time people start helping the people in need.

  • CapeleyZ-1
    5/12/2015 - 05:38 p.m.

    This article was about how Elvis Summers has built tiny houses for homeless persons living on the street. It all started when he built a tiny house for a homeless woman living in the South Los Angelas area. After this scenario, he funded a charity called Tiny House, Huge purpose. Summers thought that he would just help a dozen or so people and then go back to stressing about his job but this organization has now turned into a mission for him. I think that this is very inspiring.

  • SydneeF-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 09:25 p.m.

    i think this is a good way to help them get there life back on track. it gives them support and shows that people still care. this was a very insiprational article to me. plus its non profit so that shows he commited to helping them, not in it just for the money.

  • NickB-2
    5/13/2015 - 12:44 p.m.

    This article is about homes for the homeless. Elvis Summers, a Los Angeles resident, recently started a crowdfuning campaign to create homes for the homeless. He gained huge attention when a video of him building small home for Smokie, a transient in LA. The home is 8 ft long and rolls on wheels, so it can be moved from place to place to avoid problems with the law. he has raked in over $60,000 is money for his cause, and is receiving countless offers for help. I think that it is great that someone would do this out if the kindness of their heart.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT