Shantytown, Inc.

There is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary solution, to quote a friend of mine.

Ad hoc structures sprout like fungi across the cityscape, cobbled together by the People of the Favela from found materials. Kiewit/Shea and the Army Corps of Engineers have nothing on the 77th MethHead Mobile Assembly Brigade.  They get it done overnight.

These domiciles cost the public nothing except sanitation, aesthetics, fire safety, petty crime, our collective dignity and quality of life, i.e., property values.

So what would we pay to rid ourselves of eyesores?

Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News

How would you feel about $8,600? That’s the price of a two-person Pallet house in a Tiny Home Village. Considering the alternative: $700,000 “transitional housing” apartments with granite countertops and a ten-year horizon line, this a bargain.  Sounds good to me.

Fonda Rosing/Hope of the Valley

On Monday the first Tiny House hamlet in L.A. opened on Chandler Blvd in NoHo.  Forty 8×8 cabins, each with its own A/C unit and WiFi. Communal showers and support services for 75 people.  A second Village is due to open this spring, adjacent to the 170 freeway near Valley Plaza.

There are numerous publically-owned slivers of ground like this, many tucked in enticingly out of the way locations across the county.  The Pallet houses can be trucked in and carted away as needed, allowing for flexibility and, crucially, impermanence. Call it Ad Hoc Plus.

You knew this was coming, right?
You’re living in Mayor Garbageciti’s City.
Where the public trough has no bottom.
Where Shantyown, Inc. is King.

The true price of these Pallet houses, to the taxpayer: $130,000.

Scratching your head on this one?  Let the Times summarize for us:

A breakdown provided by the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering shows that the contract provides $1.5 million just to prepare the site.

It also includes $122,000 for underground utilities, $253,000 for concrete pads (one for each shelter), $312,000 for an administrative office and staff restroom, $1.1 million for mechanical, electrical and fire alarms and $280,000 for permits and fees.

Additionally, the city has budgeted $651,000 to connect to the street sewer line and $546,000 in design, project management and inspection costs.

The key phrase is concrete pad. The houses were designed to be dropped off on pallets, or any manner of wooden support, and relocated when circumstances desired, much like a job site Porta-Potty. Impermanence is their nature.   Anchoring it to concrete is making a temporary solution an ever-lasting one.

I have the calculator out, running the numbers, and coming up with $73,446 per unit.  Into whose pocket is the other $56,554 going?  The Times is incurious on this point.

The City of Riverside erected an identical village in December, same manufacturer, for $21,ooo a house.  In Washington and Oregon, they’re getting them up for $12,000.

The journey from $12K to $130K is the distance between necessity and avarice, between a city that works and one that doesn’t.

6 thoughts on “Shantytown, Inc.”

    1. I’m curious about the target population for this Village, as it was erected in response to a court consent decree regarding people living along/under the freeway. Those folks are hardcore addicts, and presumably the least likely to come in from the outside. On the other hand, the doors to the cabins have locks/privacy, a crucial advantage over traditional shelters.

  1. This is one of many problems where the private sector is far better equipped to provide a solution at the lowest possible cost. I can’t understand why you would cover undeveloped property with dozens of concrete pads and glorified sheds when there are so many vacant retail properties that are already served with utilities. All the city would have to do is relax some of the zoning regulations and taxes, simplify the bureaucracy, solicit bids and then stay the f out of the way.

    Seems a lot Greener to use something that already exists.

  2. I’ve been saying for years the first step would be to set up some of those giant army tents of the kind Trapper John and Hawkeye slept in during the 11 years the Korean War was fought over off of Malibu Canyon Road. Not opulent, but basic shelter and relative comfort, compared to the current alternative. Of course, that would assume the goal of the Homeless-Industrial Complex was to actually end homelessness. Which it obviously isn’t.

    1. Doesn’t FEMA already have M.A.S.H tents in abundance? What if the City explicitly allowed drug consumption as an inducement to come off the street? The Heroin tent, no questions asked. The ketamine tent. The meth tent. The sober tent. They could have a sharps container, and a NarCan dispenser on site. I should do a post on this.

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