A tiny solution to the big problem of homelessness?

SANTA CLARITA, CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) - Elvis Summers isn't sure how many tiny houses he's built for homeless people since he started two-and-a-half years ago, but he thinks it's around 42.

It all began with Smokie, a 60-year-old homeless woman sleeping on the sidewalk in his Los Angeles neighbourhood. He built her a tiny house. A very tiny house - just four feet by eight feet - and the idea took off from there.

His latest construction is a little bigger - and he's building it with the help of a group of nine- to 11-year-olds from a local charter school.

"When the school reached out to me and, you know, said that the fourth and fifth grade class want to build a house, I was completely excited and they said well, you know, we want to build it a little bigger than, you know, your normal size and I was like, yeah let's do it," Mr Summers said.

The idea was sparked by a project the children worked on to create a blueprint and scale model for a sustainable small house. They contacted Mr Summers, set up a fundraising website for materials, and the tiny house began to take shape.

"It's so amazing seeing it all come together," said 10-year-old Mariposa Robles.

Mr Summers isn't from a construction background, he just has a passion for building things. And a passion for helping people. He believes the best way to tackle homelessness is to get a roof over people's heads, then deal with other issues and offer support services as needed.

"Nobody anywhere should be homeless, let alone in one of the richest countries in the world," he said. "To me, it's just simple. The first thing that anybody needs to do anything in this problem is housing."

When it's finished, Mr Summers will set up the tiny house on private land, or a mobile home park, and will invite a homeless veteran to live there.

Eventually, he hopes to establish tiny house communities with bathroom and laundry facilities and communal gardens, providing a tiny solution to the big problem of homelessness.