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LA Returning the Tiny Houses it Took From the Homeless

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The confiscated houses will be given back to the man who built them

Last year, South LA resident Elvis Summers built a tiny house for a homeless woman in his neighborhood using simple materials he bought from Home Depot. The heartwarming story captured lots of attention, and was even written about in People. It led Summers to start a crowdfunding effort to help build and distribute miniature homes throughout the city to shield homeless residents from the elements. He ended up raising close to $100,000 and the small, colorful homes began popping up on overpasses and sidewalks around LA. That is, until the city confiscated them in February.

Citing health and safety concerns, City Councilmember Curren Price asked sanitation workers to seize the 37 houses Summers had constructed (though he was able to remove eight before they could be taken). Not surprisingly, taking houses from the homeless didn't go over very well with the public, and now the city has decided to return the units to Summers. According to the LA Times, Summers will get his houses back over the next two weeks, but he'll need to find a new place to put them.

The city is still not letting Summers set up his houses on public property, so he will store them at a church lot in Compton for the time being while he searches for a parcel of land to permanently install them. Meanwhile, Summers says that the former residents of the confiscated homes are still living on the streets, in spite of city efforts to get them rent vouchers.

While LA officials try to figure out how to pay for a $1.85-billion plan to combat homelessness, the city has taken steps to limit the possessions homeless residents are allowed to keep with them. Last month, the council passed an ordinance that prevents homeless residents from storing anything on the sidewalk that does not fit into a standard sized trash bin. This includes bulkier items such as furniture and, of course, festively colored houses.