Save lives. Save the Earth.
Los Angeles has witnessed a shocking explosion of homelessness, despite billions of dollars in state aid and voter-approved tax measures to add more housing. The point-in-time count conducted in January 2020 estimated that there were 41,290 people experiencing homelessness in the City of Los Angeles – an increase of 16 percent, from the previous year.
As an alternative to the skyrocketing costs and inefficiency of the city’s response — median cost of $531,000 per unit of housing; estimated project timelines of three to six years — the Los Angeles Community Action Network is developing a prototype community in South Central L.A. Combining micro homes with solar power and other energy performance features, our EcoHood development will provide stable housing for those in need faster and cheaper while preserving the environment.
The property is being developed with non-public sources. Each 400 square foot home includes a bedroom, bathroom with shower, fully-equipped kitchen and living area. The goal of the pilot project is to provide a template for how to utilize some of the thousands of city- and county-owned parcels to reduce L.A.’s homeless population at a fraction of cost of traditional construction without harming the planet.
LA CAN maintains that Housing is a Human Right and has engaged in preserving and improving extremely low-income housing since our inception. EcoHood is the newest extension of LA CAN’s critical housing work.
Check back regularly to follow the progress of LA CAN’s innovative housing project!
July 12 2021
Despite billions in state and voter-approved funds to combat homelessness, LA’s elected officials have failed to provide true solutions to the affordable housing crisis. The city needs an alternative to a system based on the premise that affordable housing development is only attractive where land values are economical and adequate financial subsidies are available.
A new low-cost housing paradigm is emerging right now at the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s sustainable housing development in South Central L.A. Combining modular-built small-footprint residences with solar power and other energy performance features, LA CAN’s EcoHood pilot project will feature 275 to 325 square foot 1BR and 2BR units, which include a bathroom with a shower, a fully equipped kitchen, a washer-dryer stack, and a living area. These units will provide long-term housing in less time and at a fraction of the cost of new construction, without harming the environment.
The EcoHood neighborhood development is located on donated land and does not rely on public resources. Instead, funding for the innovative project continues to be from individual and foundation giving and virtual fundraising events. The goal of the community-driven project is to create a blueprint for the city to set aside its vast inventory of vacant or underutilized parcels in a Housing Trust for low-cost housing developments.
Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti both have pledged substantial resources for affordable housing, which could be allocated toward options such as prefabricated and modular units. It’s time to reimagine L.A.’s approach to solving homelessness.
Elected officials who continue to focus on impermanent solutions like the criminalization of unhoused people, communal shelters, and “tiny homes” to make homeless encampments less visible while failing to address the root of the problem should be held accountable in the June 2022 municipal election.
June 23 2021
A Modest Proposal: If NIMBYs Are So Worried About Houselessness, Maybe They Should Give Up Some Land
“What we’ve come up against now is a public conversation that homelessness is a mental health and addiction issue and not a housing issue,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin in a recent Los Angeles Times interview.
Bonin has taken a lot of heat for his actions to address the housing crisis — not only from his CD14 constituents, but from political opportunists as well, who charge he is too sympathetic to the plight of unhoused people and should instead be rounding them up for relocation to government-controlled sanctioned encampments.
Never afraid to speak his mind, Bonin’s words describe NIMBYism to a T. In neighborhoods throughout the city these closed-minded beneficiaries of the status quo have organized aggressively against efforts to site much needed homeless housing units within their precious zip codes.
Housed Angelenos must accept reality. The housing crisis is caused by availability, affordability and poverty. Who doesn’t have a family member or friend who is one paycheck, one car repair, one illness away from losing their home?
With eight city council seats up for grabs in 2022, candidates will be judged on their commitment to solving the housing crisis. At the same time, wealthy Angelenos have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
The city could set aside its vast inventory of vacant or underutilized parcels in a Housing Trust for low-cost housing developments. Philanthropists could supply construction funding in exchange for the kind of tax relief they get for a donation to, say, a university endowment.
Housing is not a commodity. Housing is a human right. It is a public good. And it is imperative that all available public and private resources are used to reduce the number of tents and makeshift dwellings that clog sidewalks across greater L.A.
May 18, 2021
A promising addition to the homelessness tool kit: small footprint residences on public land
The Chandler Street tiny homes village in North Hollywood has received a lot of attention lately, as city and county officials scramble to ban people from living on sidewalks. Consisting of 40 64-square foot pallet shelter units, the $5 million development is the first of several similar projects planned for the area and other neighborhoods throughout L.A. Chandler Street currently houses 43 residents, according to financial news website Business Insider.
Meanwhile in South Central L.A., the nonprofit Los Angeles Community Action Network’s EcoHood low-cost sustainable housing prototype takes the concept to a whole new level, putting the “home” back in tiny homes.
The pilot project combines prefabricated small-footprint residences with solar power and other energy performance features to provide more affordable housing that can be produced faster, without harming the environment. Each of its 12 one and two-bedroom units (which range from 275 square feet to 325 square feet) includes a bathroom with shower, a full kitchen, a living area and a washer and dryer stack.
By contrast, Chandler Street has shared bunkhouse bathrooms — a design that has been criticized by some in the unhoused community.
“We need our own little houses; everybody has to have their own separate bathrooms,” said one tiny home resident.
Another concern is that the tiny home villages are being built as temporary housing when the real problem is a lack of permanent housing Angelenos can afford. The goal is for the program to last for 90 days until residents are able to find a house of their own.
The purpose of the EcoHood development is to create a template for adding new housing on some of the thousands of city and county-owned parcels throughout L.A. Technology is changing the way we think about housing—scalable, energy efficient and architecturally consistent with any neighborhood, a prefabricated home can last just as long as a regular home built directly on a construction site.
LA CAN’s climate-friendly complex will include common areas as well as an organic gardening space that will help foster a sense of community, resulting in a safe, dignified environment that enables residents to pursue educational and employment opportunities. And funding for the $2.5 million project comes entirely from non-public resources.
Under fire for failing to address L.A.’s housing crisis, elected officials are jumping on the tiny homes bandwagon. On the Westside, councilman Mike Bonin is proposing to site alternative housing on city-owned parcels; his motion calls for two parks, three beach parking lots and a waterfront parking lot in Marina del Rey to be evaluated as possible locations for new housing including tiny homes.
EcoHood fills the gap between the city’s temporary solutions (such as A Bridge Home and the tiny homes villages) and permanent supportive housing. Many unhoused people have to live in their cars, or worse. The EcoHood model is a cost-effective alternative to interim fixes that have never helped people exit homelessness.
With as many as four unhoused people dying every day in Los Angeles, it’s time that our elected leaders include community-driven proposals such as LA CAN’s pilot project in creating and implementing housing policy. The notion that there is a shortage of land for additional housing is absurd. The government’s vast inventory of vacant or underutilized properties is a valuable asset in the fight against homelessness.
The EcoHood model should be part of an overall action plan to address L.A.’s housing crisis.
January 8, 2021
LA CAN EcoHood housing development will provide homeless COVID protection
The coronavirus surge in shelters for L.A.’s unhoused population “underscores the urgency of moving homeless people” into individual spaces “not into group settings,” according to a recent Los Angeles Times editorial.
With 60% of homeless virus cases occurring in “shelters of all kinds — from vast emergency shelters to the smaller-scale ones created under L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s A Bridge Home program”— the status quo is not an option. Instead of repurposing old ideas that have never helped people exit homelessness, lawmakers must urgently allocate government-owned land to nonprofit groups experimenting with innovative models that produce homes quickly and inexpensively.
The Los Angeles Community Action Network’s EcoHood sustainable community development in South Central L.A. provides a template for converting surplus publicly-owned parcels into
stable housing faster and at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction, without harming the environment. Combining micro homes with solar power and other energy performance features, the EcoHood property is being developed by the Skid Row-based nonprofit with non-public sources.
In contrast to the tiny homes projects the city is building in multiple locations around L.A. — 64 square foot so-called “pallet shelters” that also require communal bathroom, shower and cooking facilities — each 400 square foot EcoHood residence includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area. The per-unit cost is $40,000 versus $130,000 for each 8-by-8-foot pallet shelter. The pallets were designed as temporary shelter for disaster relief, or short-term transitional housing; whereas micro homes can serve as permanent structures.
The Times editorial concluded, “Deciding between staying outside in the winter or coming inside to a group shelter at the height of the pandemic is a grim choice that no one should have to make. It’s up to Los Angeles officials to bring people into a safe place.”
The most vulnerable Angelenos deserve to live safe and dignified lives. If the COVID crisis isn’t enough for City Hall to recalibrate its homeless strategy, what is?
Expanding LA CAN’s EcoHood model citywide will help stop the surge of virus cases in the homeless population.
Kamau Bell, producer and host of CNN’s Emmy Award-winning docuseries United Shades of America, introduced the EcoHood video as part of LA CAN’s Freedom Now event.
October 30, 2020
Dignified Housing, Not Just Shelter
As L.A. city council members scramble to ban people from living on sidewalks, on Nov. 24 they are set to vote on a proposal that would allow the removal of homeless encampments anywhere in the city — if shelter is first offered to those living in them. One interim living arrangement being pursued is to set up tiny homes in parks and other unoccupied plots of land.
There are three temporary cabin construction projects in the works in parks in the Valley and one in South L.A. Each project would include 50 to 70 units along with adjacent toilet and shower facilities. The total cost is estimated at $13 million to house 270 people (about $48,000 per person). The structures would be a three-year temporary project on the park sites.
But on closer examination the so-called “tiny homes” are nothing more than a backyard storage shed with windows. What’s more, the same $13 million price tag could provide more than 300 alternative dwellings that offer not only shelter but a dignified living space as well.
The Los Angeles Community Action Network’s eCo2LA prototype community in South Central L.A. combines micro homes with solar power and other energy performance features. The pilot project will provide stable housing for those in need faster and cheaper than traditional construction while preserving the environment. Each EcoHood unit has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living area.
The Climate friendly development will include common areas to build community.
With three unhoused people dying every day in Los Angeles this is no time for temporary fixes that have never helped people exit homelessness. The goal of the innovative EcoHood development is to create a template for adding new housing on some of the thousands of city- and county-owned parcels.
Angelenos must demand that their elected leaders include community-driven proposals such as LA CAN’s in creating and implementing housing policy. The EcoHood model should part of an overall action plan to address L.A.’s housing crisis.
October 19, 2020
Playing All the Angles
A recurring knock on developing city-owned property for homeless housing is that L.A.’s vast inventory of land includes odd-shaped lots that are considered unsuitable for residential construction.
LA CAN’s EcoHood development in South Central L.A. overcomes the problem by combining micro homes with solar power and other energy performances features.
Technology is changing the way we think about housing — scalable, prefabricated, energy efficient and architecturally consistent with any neighborhood. The EcoHood prototype community reflects this trend, providing stable housing faster, at a fraction of the cost of conventional construction.
The EcoHood property is being developed with non-public sources. Each 400 square foot residence includes a bedroom, bathroom with shower, fully-equipped kitchen and living area. Common spaces are designed to bring neighbors together in a relaxing environment and build community. The goal of LA CAN’s unique sustainable neighborhood is to create a model for developing housing on some of the thousands of city- and county-owned parcels, including odd-shaped lots.
With three unhoused people dying every day in Los Angeles business as usual is not an option. Instead, City Hall must include community-driven proposals in creating and implementing housing policy. The EcoHood model should be part of an overall action plan to address L.A.’s housing crisis.
September 28, 2020
Mayor’s ‘Housing Innovation Challenge’ is no contest: LA CAN wins hands down
A year ago as the average cost per unit of projects funded by homeless housing measure Proposition HHH skyrocketed, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his $120 million Housing Innovation Challenge. The winning proposals have one thing in common — their innovation is debatable.
“Alan Greenlee, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Nonprofit Housing and a member of the panel that rated the 13 proposals that were submitted, conceded that some of the innovations might not appear dramatically innovative,” as the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. To be sure, half of the winning proposals simply “tweak” the complex Prop. HHH funding model and reduce the average cost per unit to $352,000 from $531,000, according to the Times.
Another approach to innovative housing is the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s eCo2LA prototype community in South Central L.A. Combining micro homes with solar power and other energy performance features, Budlong Square will provide stable housing for those in need faster and cheaper while preserving the environment.
The property is being developed with non-public sources. The average price per unit of $40,000 (not including site prep) is for a 400 square foot home including a bedroom, bathroom with shower, fully-equipped kitchen and living area. The goal of the pilot project is to provide a template for how to utilize some of the thousands of city- and county-owned parcels to reduce L.A.’s homeless population at a fraction of cost of traditional construction.
The proposals approved for the $120 million HIC are expected to be completed in two years. Even after a six-month hiatus due to the pandemic, eCo2LA’s Budlong Square residences will be move-in ready in a fraction of that time in an effort to save lives and save the planet.
No matter how you look at it — cost, construction time, environmental impact — the HIC winners are no match for eCo2LA when it comes to innovation.
September 14, 2020
Our phones have been ringing off the hook and our email in-box is full!
The response to CNN’s United Shades of America docuseries Aug. 30 homeless episode, in which LA CAN’s Pete White and General Dogon and other Skid Row activists debunked many of the myths surrounding unhoused people has been overwhelming. People are fed up with the status quo and demanding elected officials enact alternative solutions to LA’s housing crisis. And they are contacting us wanting to know how they can help.
With that in mind, we wanted tell you about a major initiative that has picked up steam since the CNN piece was filmed in August 2019.
Despite billions of dollars in state aid and voter-approved tax measures, Los Angeles’ homeless population increased by 14% over last year. Yet elected officials continue to approve costly public-private partnership housing deals that take years to complete, and repurpose old strategies which have never helped people exit homelessness. After analyzing the inefficiency and conflicts-of-interest baked into the city’s response, the Los Angeles Community Action Network launched a strategic initiative to develop innovative housing solutions.
LA CAN’s eCo2LA (eco square) neighborhood development in South Central L.A. utilizes modern construction technologies to build stable housing for those in need faster and cheaper while preserving the environment. By combining micro homes with solar power and other energy performance features, the goal of the pilot project is to provide a template for how to best utilize thousands of city- and county-owned parcels to reduce L.A.’s homeless population at a fraction of cost of traditional construction.
LA CAN believes that the way to end homelessness is housing. If you agree, become a part of the solution by donating to the eCo2LA capital campaign to save lives and save the planet.