Long the toy of vacationers and retirees, travel trailers in recent years have unfortunately become the only shelter to thousands of people and families forced into homelessness. Homes 4 the Homeless has zeroed in on modular housing innovations in a tiny house format, but in the near-term we want to accelerate our research into various techniques of transitional housing.
Tiny house trailers have become a sensation for adventurous, off-the-grid minimalists. For a few thousands dollars, resourceful do-it-yourselfers create feats of imagination, from tiny versions of traditional homes to unique masterpieces of modern architecture. Look on YouTube or Pinterest for an endless carousel of ideas. The footprint of tiny house trailers is very similar to our modular housing approach, and having wheels fits with our need for transitional, rapid-response housing that is intermodal, mobile and reusable.
It has been difficult to determine how many people experiencing homelessness are living in trailers. In Los Angeles, 2018 data recorded 45,043 without shelter, of which 75 percent were in unsheltered accommodation, with 3,814 people in cars, 3,554 people in vans and 8,380 in RVs and Campers, or 18.6 percent.
Many are finding that unmodified travel trailers are difficult to use. As an emergency response to the COVID19 Pandemic the State of California donated 109 trailers to the City of San Jose. “But the seemingly free donation inevitably cost the city significant resources, staff time and more than $1.3 million in inspections, repairs and maintenance emergencies,” one officials was quoted as saying. Residents struggled to get in and out of the trailers, maneuver around the large site, and reach the laundry and trash services. The city does not plan to keep the trailers as a long-term option as setting up the trailers with the right infrastructure — underground sewage and utilities — would cost more than $8 million.
We noticed there seems to be a growing market for used and salvage camper trailers. The lightweight and often hard to find parts for these campers make them difficult to keep in repair. But, with research using the trailer frames as the foundation for tiny houses with more permanent features, we believe they could work better. So, if you are getting rid of an old trailer, or getting rid of remnant or surplus building materials, Homes 4 the Homeless is accepting donations. As a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Charity all your donations are tax-deductible. Learn more at www.Homes4theHomeless.org.