These 160-foot apartments could be the solution to housing San Francisco's homeless population of 7,000.
San Francisco might be a city of class, culture, and progression but its homeless population is through the roof. At any given moment, there are approximately 7,000 individuals living on the city’s streets, according to statistics gathered by volunteers in 2015. Though solutions have been offered – mainly a single residency hotel (SRO), those units are cramped and don’t have bathrooms, kitchens, or high air quality.
It’s because of this that innovator Patrick Kennedy and his team at Panoramic Interests are determined to help solve the homelessness crisis in San Francisco without sacrificing peoples’ dignity or quality of life. FastCoExist reports that Kennedy is responsible for developing MicroPAD, a small, prefabricated housing unit that can be used alone or stacked into 200-unit complexes.
Each unit is 8 feet by 20 feet and can fit into a long parking space. Tempered glass offers privacy while still allowing natural light to filter through. And, all the necessary amenities are included, such as a kitchen, bathroom, and a combination living/sleeping area.
The structure was inspired by capsule hotels and is remarkably affordable to build. With a nine-foot ceiling and large windows, it doesn’t skimp on quality, either. An armoire has hangers that double the storage space for clothes and a “gear wall” has been installed to store heavy equipment. Additionally, there’s even a UV light under the bed that kills bedbugs, similar to what is often in shelters.
Even though the apartment is tiny, it’s been designed to prevent fires and flooding, as well as to minimize outside noise.
The “housing first” approach to solving homelessness does work, as the state of Utah and the city of Dallas have proven in the past. Evidence suggest that when a struggling person is given a basic foundation to build off of (a secure, safe place to live), they can being to rebuild their lives.
The team relays that each unit can be built for 40% to 50% cheaper when it’s made in a factory, can easily be transported by truck, and can be assembled in not time at all. In fact, when all the numbers are crunched, a sleek MicroPAD is more affordable than the typical “supporting housing” which is offered by the city of San Francisco.
“Conventional construction is really expensive, especially when you do density, mid-rise stuff like a concrete building going up seven or eight floors,” says Patrick Kennedy. “We like to think that Micropad gives you everything you need to provide for housing in urban areas, but not one square inch more.”
Kennedy has been working hard to show people how the MicroPADS work in an effort to persuade the city to invest in the idea. He placed a demo right in front of his office on Ninth and Mission (a neighborhood with a significant homeless population) and has been featured in several high-profile publications. Because the units would cost around $1,000 month, they’re likely too expensive for City Hall. However, the entrepreneur isn’t giving up, as he believes the entire project can be funded by private subsidies. He says,
“Our whole plan is predicated on no subsidies. And no dependence whatsoever on low-income housing money. It would be entirely privately financed.”
Eventually, Kennedy and the team want to build a unit that can be duplicated 10,000 times in multiple buildings (each 2 to 12 stories high).
“Once we get one of these buildings approved, it won’t be automatic, but it will be much quicker to get that next one approved,” he explains.
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