A California man builds a tiny home for a homeless woman with his big heart.
Tiny homes have become a popular solution for affordable housing across the country, but California resident Elvis Summers has taken it to another level. He built a small house for a homeless woman so that she had shelter and a place to sleep at night.
When her husband passed away in 2004, Irene “Smokie” McGee was no longer able to afford the home she was living in and moved outdoors. She told ABC News, “I feel marvelous. You can’t even explain how I feel. I’m on my way to a different life,” McGee, the 60-year-old resident of Los Angeles said about her new place.
Summers, a 38-year-old former construction worker, became friends with McGee when she asked him to donate recyclables. Little did she know the extent of his generosity.
“I started asking more questions about her to see what her story was,” he said. “I learned she didn’t have anything, not even a cardboard box. She was literally sleeping in the dirt and I just wanted to make her a place where she could feel comfortable. So, I asked her ‘what would you think if I built you a mini house’ and I think she thought I was crazy.”
With just $500 worth of materials from a local home improvement store, Summers began working on the structure. “I saw online that people were building these tiny homes. I had done construction before, so I figured that’s easy – I could do that.”
The home has a door and a window and looks a bit like a tool shed or chicken coop on wheels. It is necessary for the living space to be mobile as the city will only allow it to stay in the same space for a 72-hour period.
“We are all human,” Summers said. “It could be somebody’s sister, grandmother, or somebody’s kids out there. She was very grateful. She’s very sweet and said ‘no one’s ever done anything for me.’ When I first met her, until now, she looks like a different person. She seems legitimately happy now.”
Summers, who McGee described as ‘one in a million’ and her ‘guardian angel,’ has now crowdsourced over $50,000 for “Starting Human,” an organization he created through the popularity of his kind gesture.
With the help of donations to his organization, Summers says that his goal is, “To find some vacant land to not only build more, but to temporarily place them so these people can build themselves back up and reintegrate into society.”
Who knows if the idea will catch on, but keep your eyes peeled for more tiny homes for the homeless in the future. Why give someone change when you can change their life?