See the interior of a small house built for the homeless

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Jolinn Bracey slept in her Toyota Corolla for five years until she put roaming in her rearview mirror when moving into a tiny house.

Bracey, 48, is one of 41 residents of The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village in North Hollywood, California, which provides transitional housing for the homeless.

“It gave me a place to reconfigure myself and build my new home,” Bracey told CNN. “It put me back into practice to be consistent in the normal things you do. It roots you.”

Bracey moved into the 64 square foot home in February. It includes a bed, an air conditioner, shelves to hang colorful clothes and, most importantly, a door that locks.

“It’s the first time in a long time that I haven’t felt like someone is going to attack me,” Bracey said.

She said a fire at a house she once owned and an unfair eviction at a place she rented resulted in her being homeless.

There are more than 41,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles, according to the latest count from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an independent and joint authority created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles.

Villages like Chandler aim to reduce that number by placing former homeless people in protected and fenced communities.

Helping residents get back on their feet

At Chandler, case managers can offer residents help with everything from drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues to navigating the complexities of job applications, insurance. disease and more.

“We are dealing with people at the worst time of their lives,” said Rowan Vansleve, president of Hope of the valley, the nonprofit that operates Chandler and other small residential towns in the Los Angeles area.

“It’s really humiliating to say, ‘I can’t feed myself. I can’t house myself. I can’t take a hot shower.'”

Vansleve says new residents are reveling in that first on-site shower and calling hot water and the right soap “magic” that helps residents feel like a better person.

Residents also receive three meals a day.

“We are doing everything we can to make this site welcoming. We call it the ‘Love Club’,” added Vansleve.

Despite the nickname, the village has rules. At the top of the list, no weapons or drugs are allowed on campus, and paraphernalia must be checked in an outside locker.

Hope of the Valley says residents live in the houses for free and can stay as long as they are on their way to permanent housing, which advisers say takes three to six months.

Vanslev said the strategy is to get people off the streets just a few miles from the tiny hometown, not other parts of Southern California, such as Skid Row.

“That way, people in the neighborhood see less homelessness, less garbage, less crime, less wandering drug addicts,” he added. “I think these villages should spread across the country like Starbucks – be in every community.”

Vansleve says the original small villages are built on small plots, many redeveloped urban properties. The Chandler complex spans only half an acre.

A company in Everett, Washington called Palette, which specializes in small shelters for the homeless or temporary housing, built the houses in the village of Chandler. The company estimates the minimum cost for each home at $ 5,495.

Pallet reports that he helped build 44 small residential villages, mostly on the West Coast, with 13 projects underway.

Hope of the Valley aims to house more than 900 people by November, Vansleve said.

“One of the lucky ones”

Completely out of sight of passers-by, Todd Dumanski, a Chandler resident, loaded his laundry into the row of stacked washers and dryers.

“I’ve been a heroin and multiple substance addict most of my life,” Dumanski said.

Dumanski, 36, said he had previously amassed a net worth of over $ 1 million by founding a vitamin and supplement business in the Philadelphia area. But he said bad luck with business and his drug use ultimately put him on the streets after moving to Los Angeles.

“I am one of the lucky ones,” he said, “because a lot of people (drug addicts) have died.”

Dumanski described a dark homeless underground world filled with debilitating or deadly drug abuse, rampant theft, all forms of violence including sexual assault against women and men, and flying bullets.

“I got shot six times, by a gun, by three gang members,” Dumanski said.

“They were young, maybe 18 to 24 years old. They shot me because they wanted my place for a friend of theirs who would soon become homeless.”

Dumanski said he built an elaborate shelter near Highway 170, out of sight, and installed a gate.

Now Dumanski lives in a tiny house less than a mile away, with little more than his bed, toiletries, and a huge water jug ​​with a handle he lifts to add to his sessions. training.

“I like to put everything in a backpack,” said Dumanski. “I don’t attach emotions to material things. Technically from the outside I have nothing, but I feel like I have everything.”

Dumanski once had a house and a BMW – but also feelings of depression and suicide, he said.

“You’re giving me tens of thousands of dollars, that’s not going to help me right now,” Dumanski said. “I’m exactly where I want to be right now. I know what I need to do to move forward. This place is a game-changer, man.”

Pay next

Every little house is different. Interior styling ranges from Dumanski’s minimalist white to Bracey’s kaleidoscopic sparkles of purples, reds, aqua and more.

“My decor is just me – I’m colorful, awesome,” Bracey said. “I think outside the box.”

Inside her tiny home, Bracey dreamed out loud of getting a bachelor’s degree and giving those who are currently homeless all the goodwill she found in Chandler.

She says she is two classes away from earning an associate degree at Los Angeles Valley Community College.

“I just want to help everyone not to go through what I’ve been through,” Bracey said.

At the end of the month, Bracey said, she plans to move into an apartment. It will be just down the street, not far from the parking lot where she was sleeping in her car.

The-CNN-Wire
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