The Salvation Village, a brand new ‘tiny house’ facility able to house 75 homeless individuals in Harbor City, Southern California, has opened its doors. Run by The Salvation Army with support from the City of Los Angeles, LA Harbor College and Pallet Shelter, the cleverly-designed individual dwelling places are intended to be a first step towards helping clients find their forever home.
While each tiny house accommodates one person – with 25 set aside for Harbor College students – there are communal facilities for laundry and pets. The Salvation Army also has case workers and social workers available on site to help clients with essential life skills.
At the opening ceremony, The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander Lieut-Colonel John Chamness reflected: ‘Last night, after a long day of work, I got in my car and drove home to my house and opened that front door and walked in. And I had dinner with my beautiful wife and some friends. And then I was able to lie down in a nice bed with a pillow and enjoy a great night of sleep.
‘For 66,000 of our Angelinos each night, they don’t get that opportunity to go home to a place that is safe and secure – a place they can call home. Today, I’m happy to say that with Councilman Joe Buscaino and The Salvation Army, we’re able to provide 75 homes. 75 beds. 75 pillows. Where every night, our friends that are currently living on the street have a place they can call home – Salvation Village.’
The Salvation Village is the thirteenth shelter operated by The Salvation Army in Southern California, offering a total of 5,375 beds per night. Venues range from booked hotel rooms and emergency shelters to rental assistance programmes, former motels and special purpose-built facilities.
The vital nature of this work in helping homeless people back to safety and restoring dignity is evidenced in Justin’s story. He explains: ‘Back in April 2020 I became homeless. I was working full time, but because of coronavirus the company shut down … I was moving from hotel room to hotel room [and] had nowhere to go. I was on the train and ended up at LA Union Station. There, I met workers from PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) and they offered me emergency shelter.’
In time, Justin – who is also a cancer survivor – transferred to The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter. Based eight miles south-east of the railway station, this is a comprehensive programme that offers interim housing with supportive services for up to 500 people who are experiencing homelessness. The shelter offers individualised care, including therapy, mental health services, library and computer access and assistance with vocational training and job referrals. The dedicated staff seek to address the underlying issues that contributed to each client becoming homeless.
Justin continues: ‘They assigned Xavier as my case manager. I was able to continue working and save money. Xavier has been a tremendous case manager … I now have a home where I can invite my daughter to visit me.’