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Micro Housing Units Provide Shelter for Those Left Homeless

— July 17, 2020

Housing units help the homeless have a place to call home.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors signed off on a building deal to include 145 micro studios as ‘permanent supportive housing’ units for the homeless.  The building’s micro studios are part of the city’s ongoing effort to open more than 1,000 new permanent supportive housing (PSH) units by the end of 2024.

Individuals experiencing homelessness will be referred for housing in these units by the city’s Coordinated Entry System.  Sarah Owens, the mayor’s deputy press director, explained that “individuals who live in PSH units generally allocate between 30-50 percent of their income toward rent, with the remaining amount covered by multiple subsidy programs that support PSH in San Francisco.”

Mayor London Breed, who grew up in San Francisco public housing, was elected on a promise to provide 1,000 more beds by the end of 2020.  The city currently houses over 10,800 homeless people in PSH units.

Micro Housing Units Provide Shelter for Those Left Homeless
Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

“These new homes will not only provide permanent housing for formerly homeless people, they will also open up more spaces in our shelter system for people who are currently living on the streets,” Breed said.

It will be at least another year until the units are ready to be occupied.  The site was previously used as a parking lot, and the building has an anticipated completion date of fall 2021.  The site was acquired with a $35 million from a donation from Tipping Point Community, a non-profit foundation.

The developer, Mercy Housing California, has partnered with Citibank and the State of California to secure low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to finish construction.  This will allow a portion of the original $35 million donation from Tipping Point to “be invested into additional supportive housing projects,” according to a press release.

An organization called ‘Friends of Bryant Street’ recently sent a letter of criticism to Tipping Point Community, Mercy Housing, and District Supervisor Matt Haney requesting that the building’s “bottom three floors be reserved for commercial space” and asked for “fewer than 145 units of housing.”  The organization also asked for a “higher wall between the building and the neighborhood, a zero tolerance policy for residents which would require them to stay off drugs and alcohol and in recovery programs, and a rooftop patio that would be made accessible to both residents and members of the public.”  It is unclear whether any of these requirements will be addressed.

In other areas of the world, including Cambridge, UK, micro housing units are also being set up to accommodate a growing homeless population and keep individuals off the street.  The high cost of living has caused many Cambridge residents to lose their homes, leaving them without a roof over their heads.

A new development launching this month will consist of six micro homes, which have been constructed on church-owned property.  The land was donated, and the structures have been designed to be easily relocated when the current tenure is up.  Each unit comes equipped with a bathroom, kitchen, living space, bedroom and laundry area.  Occupants are able to stay as long as is needed and will receive financial support from the local Jimmy’s Cambridge charity for the homeless.


City Approves 145 New Units for the Unhoused

‘They will change lives’: the micro houses tackling homelessness in Cambridge

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