These curious little shacks were actually government subsidized.
“The Mojave Desert was one of the last places in the lower 48 where land was granted free to anyone willing to improve the land. The cabins featured in the photographs were built as a result of one of the last homesteading acts passed, The Small Tract Act of 1938, that granted 5 acre parcels “for such purposes as home, cabin, health and recreational sites”. The Small Tract Act was also known as the “Jack Rabbit Act” as some people considered the desert land “fittin’ only for jack rabbits and tumbleweeds”.
The 5 acre plots were leased for 5 years for a nominal fee ($99. per year), and if a structure was built that was at least 12′ X 16′, the leaseholder could buy the property for $120. an acre. Water and power were not required. Many cabins were carefully built by weekend desert lovers, but many more were flimsily erected by land speculators and were never inhabited”