When Elvis Summers noticed a woman sleeping in the dirt outside his Los Angeles home, he knew he couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. He decided to build her a shelter that would put a roof over her head and give her a safe and warm place to sleep.

A video he posted showing how he built the tiny house and the moment he handed the keys over to his neighbor, 60-year-old Irene “Smokie” McGhee, went viral.

Elvis decided he would continue building these houses for the homeless. He started a nonprofit, Starting Human/My Tiny House Project LA, and a fundraising effort brought in over $95,000 to do just that.

The goal of the nonprofit is to provide a safer, personal, and caring space for the homeless that will help instill dignity and self-worth until a more permanent solution becomes available.

“So many house-less people have lost all hope and have given up, people who wish and dream the same as anyone else does, of living a good life, having friends, working, taking vacations, going to school and having Love and being loved,” the website states. “Once a person loses a stable place to live and becomes ‘homeless’, society has adapted a policy of judgement, cruelty, excommunication and prejudice towards them, which pushes a person down even further and psychologically leaves them in ruins.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to get people off the streets and into a shelter and a safe place. Their vision is to build tiny house communities where residents will have access to electricity and shared bathroom and laundry facilities, as well as a community garden.

The project has been met with some resistance. In February the city of Los Angeles ordered the removal of the tiny homes, saying that the lack of electricity, running water, and toilets made the houses fit only for dogs, not humans.

Elvis acknowledges the homes are not the ideal situation, but they are a step in the right direction until a more permanent solution can be reached. “The tiny houses are an essential step for right now,” he said. “Nobody seems to be addressing the tens of thousands of people that need somewhere to go tonight.”

He has said he will not rest until all the homeless have a place to call their own. “[If] I have to do it singlehandedly ’til it’s done – building one tiny house at a time until there’s no more homelessness – then that’s what I’ll do,” he said.

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