It measures only 8 feet by 8 feet. But to Stephen Smith, the tiny red house in North Hollywood is the place he calls home.
Until early last month, Smith had been living out of his car in locations around the San Fernando Valley, collecting cans from city parks as a way of making spare change. He ended up on the street not through a single event, but a slippery chain of them: the death of his mother last year followed by the pandemic, which left him in an emotional and economic lurch.
“Me and my mom were best friends,” he says. “I took it kind of bad.”
After a year on the streets, however, Smith was ready for a change. When a caseworker from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority approached him with an offer of shelter over the winter, he took it. “I said, ‘Let’s get with it,’” he recalls. “God helps those who help themselves. This is Stephen 2.0.”