Gov. Newsom delivers big on tiny homes promise

State selects six companies to build 1,200 units to serve as temporary housing for the homeless

Construction site of small homes for the homeless near Riggin Ave and American Street in Visalia. (Rigo Moran)
Construction site of small homes for the homeless near Riggin Ave and American Street in Visalia. (Rigo Moran)
Darren Fraser
Published January 16, 2024  • 
12:00 pm

SACRAMENTO – Making good on last year’s promise to provide homes for the homeless, the Governor has announced another step towards making a big impact on the state’s homeless population with the delivery of 1,200 tiny solutions.

On Jan. 9, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state has selected six companies to manufacture 1,200 tiny homes for use in four locations. Individuals living in homeless encampments in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, and San Diego County will be given priority for the homes, which serve as temporary housing. 

The California National Guard will assist in the preparation and delivery of the homes. Money for the project came from Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Round 4 funding.

Looking back to last year, on March 16, 2023, Newsom said he had reached agreement with local governments regarding HHAP funding. Even further back, in 2022, the Governor put a hold on funding after local governments proposed reducing by 2% the number of homeless individuals in their cities. He told local government representatives to have “greater ambition” in their proposal. 

And as it turns out, these representatives did just that, proposing a 15% reduction in homeless numbers by 2025. Newsom rewarded their efforts by releasing $1 billion in HHAP funding.

After he announced the funding, Newsom said, “In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox, including the largest deployment in the state to move people off the streets and into housing. The crisis of homelessness will never be solved without first solving the crisis of housing.”

Newsom’s office did not say why it has taken nearly a year for the project to come to fruition.

California has the largest homeless population in the country. According to the most recent data, there are over 180,000 homeless in the state.

HOUSING ALLOCATIONS

The building contracts were awarded last October. The six companies are:

  • AMEG, based in El Dorado Hills.
  • Irontown Modular, based in Utah.
  • Plugin House Company, based in Austin, Texas.
  • Boss, based in Montebello.
  • Factory OS, based in Vallejo.
  • Pallet Shelter, based in Washington.

Los Angeles will receive 500 units, Sacramento 350, San Jose 200 and San Diego County 150. The state did not specify how many homes each manufacturer will produce or how much the project will cost.

According to the March 16 announcement, local governments will own the units and provide all services, including recruiting residents. Local jurisdictions will decide where the homes will be located. The state may provide surplus land if it is available.

IT TAKES A TINY VILLAGE

Boss builds units varying in size from 68 square feet to 576 square feet. The cost for the smallest dwelling – described as a Backyard Space on the company’s site – is just under $30,000. This includes a foundation kit, an electrical starter kit and installation. The company notes it has a 10 to 14 week lead time before shipping. The larger models can be set up for plumbing, though the state does not require the homes to have running water.

Building tiny home communities in California is nothing new for Pallet Shelter. The company delivered homes to seven locations in the state. The largest site was opened in Los Angeles in 2021 and included 1,282 beds. Pallet also built 110 homes for West Angeles, 25 for Baldwin Park, 30 for Riverside, 25 for San Jose and 60 for Sonoma County – these units were built in 120 days.

The company builds units that can house one to two people or two to four people. It also produces products to serve in a community setting, such as a community room, a bathroom and shower facility, storage units, and units that serve as offices.

Darren Fraser
Reporter