This week on Dateline reporter Dean Cornish travels to LA’s infamous Skid Row where tiny houses for the homeless are addressing a city crisis.
As the cost of living rises in Australia, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is precariously thin. House and rent prices are skyrocketing – and homelessness is a frightening possibility for more people than ever before.
In Los Angeles, this is already a reality for more than 57,000* people who now live on the city’s streets. Squeezed out of the housing market, the number of homeless has soared by a staggering 23%* in the last year – forcing LA’s City Mayor to declare a homelessness crisis.
But a controversial pint-sized idea is helping provide a possible short-term solution to the city’s emergency while attracting global support – tiny houses for the homeless.
This Tuesday, Dateline reporter Dean Cornish travels to LA’s infamous Skid Row filming alongside some of the city’s hardest-hit individuals to investigate the homelessness crisis in Hollywood’s backyard. As local authorities struggle to respond, Dean explores how one man is going rogue to try to solve it – one tiny house at a time.
Elvis Summers builds tiny houses to bring dignity to some of the city’s increasing number of homeless. “No one should be homeless. But especially in one of the richest countries in the world”, he tells Dateline.
One of those people he’s helping is Raven. At just 9, Raven fled a violent home and now lives under a tarpaulin next to a freeway. She once had a tiny house, but city authorities have banned them.
“The city always kicks us out from where we’re staying. They tell us to clean up and move. Who wants to constantly move their stuff every day, you know. It’s not easy”, Raven tells Dateline.
In the city of angels, Elvis’ mission means he isn’t considered one by the powers-that-be.
Authorities have accused the tiny homes of threatening public health and safety and Dean discovers a constant game of cat and mouse as Elvis tries to deliver the homes and avoid the city’s sanitation clean up.
Can Elvis’ tiny homes help Raven and others like her avoid the mean streets of LA?
“The tiny house idea is very simple. It’s shelter. I mean food, water and shelter are not optional – they are required for human survival”, Elvis tells Dateline.
“People need shelter now. And if I have to build a tiny house for every last person until I’m 500 years old, then that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Tuesday 27 June at 9.30pm on SBS.