By Bill Hendrickson
City Councilmember Kevin de León broke ground on Wednesday on a 48-unit pallet shelter community for the homeless in Eagle Rock. De León was joined by city agency officials, community leaders and advocates for the homeless, who took turns at the podium to talk about their aims for the site, namely, to provide the homeless in Eagle Rock with temporary shelter and social services to help them transition to permanent housing.
De León thanked the Eagle Rock community for its support of the pallet shelters, also known as tiny homes villages, singling out the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) and local volunteers for the homeless. Richard Loew, president of the ERNC and Jane Demian, the organizer and leader of a team of volunteers for the unhoused in Eagle Rock, were on the dais in recognition of their efforts.
De León also noted the opposition to tiny homes in Eagle Rock, where an effort to recall him is underway due largely to his efforts to establish the tiny homes. “Doing nothing will only result in homelessness getting worse,” he said, in remarks aimed at those who object to the tiny homes.
The tiny homes site in Eagle Rock will be located on Figueroa Street in the overflow parking lot for the Eagle Rock Recreation Center, across from the park near the on- and off-ramps of the 134 Freeway. It will be the second tiny homes village in Northeast L.A.’s Council District 14. A 115-unit tiny homes village in Highland Park broke ground in June and will take in its first group of residents in mid-October. The Highland Park tiny homes village is located on an unused stretch of Arroyo Seco Drive adjacent to the 110 Freeway.
Each tiny home measures 64 square-feet and includes fold down beds, HVAC, shelves, windows and a locking door. The shelter site includes facilities for showers, sanitation, laundry and storage, as well as on-site services, including meals, security and social services.
The Eagle Rock site will be operated by the nonprofit Union Station Homeless Services. At the groundbreaking, Ann Miskey, president of Union Station Homeless Services, said that based on the organization’s experience, 97% of individuals who enter the tiny homes will never be homeless again.
City agency officials at the groundbreaking spoke about the collaboration involved in getting to this point, noting that the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Bureau of Engineering, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the L.A. City Council and other entities came together under De León’s leadership to establish tiny homes in Eagle Rock.
“When you get all these different entities together, it usually doesn’t happen,” said Gary Lee More, the city engineer for L.A. in the Department of Engineering. Michael Shull, general manager of the Department of Recreation and Parks said the project came together because the individuals and agencies involved took an “all hands on deck” approach.
The tiny homes village in Eagle Rock, expected to open by year-end, is one small part of De León’s broader plan to establish 25,000 new housing units for the unhoused by 2025.
“We are accepting our responsibility and the moral imperative to act,” said De León. “That’s what the Eagle Rock tiny homes village is about – creating community solutions for homelessness.”