LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California once led the nation in building up sprawling neighborhoods of tract homes with large, manicured lawns, but now has among the highest housing prices in the country. Could a portable home the size of a horse trailer be the answer to the Golden State’s housing woes?

Organizations like the Latch Collective are putting on workshops to show people the potential of a tiny home on wheels and how to build their own.

“You come inside, it’s completely different, comfortable. That’s what I want it to feel,” architect Caleb Quezada said. The home, hitched to a U-Haul pickup truck, is just 84 square feet, but includes a kitchen, a dining area and a bedroom – just not all at the same time.

“Your kitchen, it’s here. Dining room,” he said, unfolding a table from the wall. “You have to close your dining room.”

Then he pulls out a seat to show how it becomes a bed.

(credit: CBS)

The unassuming trailer parked on an El Sereno street drew a crowd of people eager to see how a tiny home can be done.

“I’m so excited,” one woman says before getting in, holding up her phone to take photos of the tiny home.

The trend of tiny homes is a demonstration of how necessity is the mother of invention. Home prices and rents across the country are on the rise. A Redfin study released this week said that homeowners are staying longer in their homes – partly due to the skyrocketing price of housing – pushing prices and costs even further. The high cost of living has also been blamed on the increase in homelessness all along the West Coast.

“For us, like, the tiny house offers hope,” said Teresa Baker, co-founder of Latch Collective. She says she is also building her own tiny home.

“Everyone that I know cannot afford to buy in Los Angeles,” she said. “Which is why they’re looking at options.”

Much like traditional homeowners, Baker says she’s invested in her tiny home.

“I care a lot about my tiny home,” she said. “I’ve seen it from the ground up and when there’s an issue, I know I’m going to fix it right away.”

And, as with all things, there are pros and cons to tiny home living. One benefit is that they’re easy to take along if a career requires a move to another city.

“It’s neat to have the option, while still feeling comfortable and like in your own space,” Baker said.

But laws have not yet caught up with the new housing trend, so the drawbacks of a tiny home outweigh the benefits – for now.

The biggest hurdle to tiny home living is finding a place to park it legally. Tiny homes require a concrete pad with plumbing and a sewer line. San Luis Obispo is currently the only city in California where one can legally live in such a home.

But, that could change soon. The Los Angeles City Council is currently considering an ordinance that would allow homeowners to rent out their yards and tiny home enthusiasts continue lobbying for legalization.

But the real question about tiny homes is how much they cost:  anywhere from $2,500 to more than $100,000. But even at the high end of that range, that’s a far cry from $696,000, the average price of a home in Los Angeles.


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