Living, downsized – Santa Cruz Sentinel

SANTA CRUZ — Environmental activist and freelance photojournalist Alekz Londos’ work has allowed him to travel the county and even across the world, seeking opportunities to address climate change and document fallout from natural disasters.

Recently, while building a chicken coop at his Scotts Valley home, the long-time county resident was inspired to turn his resources, entrepreneurial spirit and energy toward a cause much closer to home. Londos said he realized that, in a pinch, a dry enclosed space slightly longer than a tall adult and with room to sit up at one end could serve as an alternative to sleeping in a doorway. And so was born his idea for the “micro tiny home” pilot project, a concept he hopes to give away freely and spread across the world to offer dignity and safety to those without shelter.

“I’m trying to make it as green as possible,” Londos explains in a video introduction posted to his website. “Also, this structure helps raise awareness of tiny homes, of micro-tiny homes, of minimalism and our transition toward sustainability. This also helps with our transition toward a caring society, caring for the homeless population.”

Micro Tiny Home creator Alekz Londos, of Scotts Valley, is working to build and distribute low-cost, eco-friendly temporary homeless shelters to high-need Santa Cruz community members. (Alekz Londos — Contributed)

“It’s not the best solution but I think it’s one of the solutions,” Londos added of his single-occupancy shelters.

At the other end of the “tiny house” concept, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted last month to hear back Feb. 23 from County Planning on initial steps needed to update county building, planning, and zoning codes allowing movable and stationary tiny homes. Numerous other California communities have paved the way for such a step, including Santa Clara County’s inclusion in March of movable tiny homes in its accessory dwelling unit codes. Tiny homes are generally defined as smaller than accessory dwelling units or “granny flats,” being stand-alone homes ranging from 100 to 400 square feet with basic functional areas for cooking, sleeping, toiletry and bathing facilities, typically built on a chassis.

“Obviously, our community is struggling with affordable housing and tiny homes and movable tiny homes provide an excellent option for creating alternative forms of housing that are affordable,” First District Supervisor Manu Koenig and effort co-sponsor, along with Fifth District Supervisor Bruce McPherson, said Jan. 26. “Certainly, as a county, we can’t afford to subsidize the creation of market-rate housing or apartment housing directly through other means, so tiny homes create a much better alternative.”

Boxed in

Londos, 40, said he knows a thing or two about the significance of shelter. For a time, the unforgiving streets of Santa Cruz were his home.

“I’ve been homeless in Santa Cruz. I’ve been so cold, and it’s raining outside, that I’ve bought a bike card and I’ve slept in a bike locker, I think probably five to six times,” Londos said. “Because that’s the safest, warmest place. You just want to be out of the rain, you want to be safe and you want to be warm and have the wind off of you.”

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