SPOTVIL, a concept for a tiny homeless village

D R A F T   Updated 10/26/18:

PROPOSAL FOR A “MINI-BRIDGE”
SMALL PILOT TENT VILLAGE (SPOTVIL) PROGRAM
BETWEEN 3554 AND 3560 WEST FIRST STREET
LOS ANGELES 90004

INTRODUCTION

With the conservative estimate of 60,000 people living on the streets of Los Angeles County, a multitude of approaches is indicated to address the many categories of unhoused persons.

 

A Bridge project in every council district adds an effective option for helping neighborhoods overcome their fears of people living on the streets and puts a symbolic dent in the number of local unhoused persons. New construction on its way, though still years away, will put a further dent in reducing the unhoused population. It is to the City’s credit too that motels and ADUs are being supported to further help with the situation.

 

However, it would be fantasy to assume that these approaches in addition to the existing shelters will solve the problem. In the event that Proposition 10 does not pass, the unhoused population is likely to further escalate. And if Prop 10 does pass and new City rent control regulations are unable to mitigate the growing eviction rate, the number of unhoused in all categories is likely to accelerate.

Therefore, it is being proposed that there be a Small Pilot Tent Village (SPOTVIL) project to demonstrate that an attractive, clean and sanitary “encampment” can be an additional option for sheltering the unhoused, especially those who, in the short term, are unlikely to use other services that might be or become available.

 

COMPONENTS OF THE SMALL PILOT TENT VILLAGE PROGRAM (SPOTVIL)

  • Clean and attractive tents, maximum of 10 or 12, one or two person tents, approx.. 35 sq. ft per tent
  • Platforms on which the tents are erected, e.g., pallets with plywood covers to protect from rain
  • Sanitary facilities on site via a sanitation trailer and/or Porta Potties and/or composting toilets and solar showers
  • Strictly enforced rules that SPOTVIL members help create and sign on to
  • Month to month rentals: all members pay tent space rent, sliding scale based on income or community service or a geographically bound local currency (already set up as the Koreatown Time Bank)
  • Access to LA Hop and other services
  • Small rectangular veggie garden boxes on wheels and gardening and composting workshops
  • Portable outdoor kitchen with solar oven and refrigeration
  • A storage container for members.
  • Proper recycling, composting and trash bins
  • Informal training and oversight via daily visits from members of the adjacent LA Eco-Village Community and other local nonprofit homeless service providers
  • Existing vetted place-based population already in the immediate neighborhood

[What else should be on this list?]

TIMEFRAME

The SPOTVIL could be up and running in 4 to 8 weeks from approval, depending on resources made available. There is already a shanty encampment of 3 to 5 persons on the property without sanitation or direct services.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT NEEDED

Support for this proposal will be sought from the CRSP Board, the immediate LA Eco-Village neighborhood on Bimini and White House Place, the Principals of the three adjacent public schools (Virgil, Frank del Olmo, Dr.
Sammy Lee), the Bresee Foundation, Mary Lind Recovery Center, Mijoo Peace Church, Mini Mall owner on southeast corner of Vermont and W. First Street, the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council, CD13, the Mayor’s Office.

 BUDGET

Approximately $5,000 to be fully functional. Includes:

  • Tents: 10 5×7 tents at wholesale $40/tent                             $400
  • Pallets: free in kind
  • –   Plywood: free in kind
    –   Toilet facility, initially construction toilet                                200/mo. depending
  • Solar portable shower:                                                             200
  • Portable outdoor kitchen with refrigeration                           600
    Veggie boxes on wheels: in kind construction; materials       100
  • Part time coordinator salary or stipend for two months       3,000
  • [What other costs should be included?}

 

EXISTING CONDITIONS

CRSP purchased this property in October 2016. A series of environmental and design studies have been done and decisions and funding are expected to take several more months. The site is a currently encapsulated brownfield. Remediation strategies and potential funding for using on-site phyto-technologies are still being explored with potential resources in conjunction with the City’s Brownfield Program, the UCLA Institute for the Environment, and the Center for Creative Land Recycling.

The proposed space for this SPOTVIL of approximately 1200 square feet has been an unsanitary encampment for several street people on and off during the past two years. A few of us associated with the adjacent Urban Soil-Tierra Urbana limited equity housing co-op in the L.A. Eco-Village have come to know some of the houseless people who frequent the space. Clifford, among them, has assumed a leadership position and has been facilitating regular clean ups of the space. Nonetheless, without sanitary facilities, access to regular services, and rules it continues to be an unhealthy space with some complaints from close-by neighbors. The houseless persons who frequent this space are congenial and cooperative about cleaning up.

POTENTIAL CONSTRUCTION ON THE SITE: THEN, WHAT?
Yes, CRSP plans to either deconstruct the small 600 square foot café building on the west side of the proposed space or earthquake retrofit it for future use as a small café and/or workshop space. In either case, CRSP would need to utilize the SPOTVIL space, and the Project would have to be relocated. If the SPOTVIL is successful, relocation of the project should not be difficult to do. Assuming such success, there are other locations within and adjacent to the L.A. Eco-Village neighborhood that may be suitable to continue the SPOTVIL. And/or, it may be that all of the residents of the SPOTVIL will have been successfully transitioned to other housing. Further, if successful, and the media shines a positive light on the Project, other neighborhoods may be willing to try their own SPOTVILs.

WHERE HAVE HOMELESS TENT VILLAGES BEEN CITY-SANCTIONED?

Although this proposal is about a very small pilot program in the densest neighborhood in the U.S., many other cities have sanctioned much larger homeless tent villages. Here are links to a few of those successful projects.

 

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/hepatitis-crisis/sd-me-homeless-camp-20171002-story.html

https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article212705164.html

 https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2016/02/americas-tent-cities-for-the-homeless/462450/   

 CRIME AND CITY-SANCTIONED TENT VILLAGES:
C
rime is likely to go down in the area. See:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/23/homeless-villages-crime-rate-seattle-portland

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

A single “mini-bridge” SPOTVIL will not solve the problem of people living on the streets. But if attractively implemented, providing clean and sanitary living conditions, rules, security, effective self management, and needed services, it may inspire other neighborhoods to provide similar small “Mini-Bridge”
SPOTVILs. Positive media coverage with heartwarming testimonials from SPOTVIL members and adjacent housed neighbors could make it fashionable and trendy to have a neighborhood SPOTVIL. Faith based organizations, land owning civic organizations, businesses with under-utilized outdoor spaces, extra wide and under-utilized residential streets: all might be inspired to play a role in mitigating the problem by having their own Mini-Bridge SPOTVIL. A critically important aspect to this Pilot is to be able to bypass the layered bureaucratic steps such projects might normally be required to go through.

 

This draft proposal initially prepared 10/18/18 by Lois Arkin, CRSP at L.A. Eco-Village, crsp@igc.org
213-738-1254 is being regularly updated and circulated to: the L.A. Eco-Village Intentional Community and adjacent neighbors, immediate neighborhood organizations and schools, the CRSP Board, Mayor’s Office, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s office, the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council, homeless service providers. Comments and concerns are invited. Others are invited to adapt the concepts to their own neighborhood needs to house those in need.

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Contact Information

117 Bimini Place #221
Los Angeles CA 90004
crsp@igc.org