San Francisco will build dozens of tiny homes for homeless

The shelters — each 64 sf — will be installed on two parking lots city leases

33 Gough Street, DignityMoves founder Elizabeth Funk (Google Maps, Dignity Capital)
33 Gough Street, DignityMoves founder Elizabeth Funk (Google Maps, Dignity Capital)

Tiny homes have not put a dent in the housing and homeless crises across the U.S. as some had predicted, but after resisting for years, San Francisco will install the shelters at two parking lots the city leases.

Seventy of the units — 64 square feet each — will be built at 33 Gough Street, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The lots have been a city-sanctioned “safe sleeping village” since December, holding 44 tents for homeless people.

The tiny homes will be similar to the one set up in Oakland and San Jose, according to the report.

Each tiny home has a steel frame and 2-inch-thick walls. The units will have a desk, a bed and a window and will be heated. The lot will have a dining area, storage spaces and bathrooms.

Nonprofit organizations, DignityMoves and Tipping Point Community will fund the $1.7 million cost of constructing and building the homes, the report noted. The structures will stay on the lot for 18 months, until the city’s lease for the parking lots runs out. It is not clear what will happen after that.

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Los Angeles’ effort last winter to install tiny homes for the homeless prompted a backlash when a report showed each 64 square-foot shelter would cost $130,000, when factoring in the infrastructure required to create the community. The structures are said to cost only about 8,500 each to manufacture.

San Francisco, which has over 8,000 homeless people, a number that has likely increased amid the pandemic, experts said. The city will receive about $800 million in funding to address the problem, money that will come from a new tax, along with state and federal dollars.

In addition to the tiny homes, city officials are also considering buying more properties to use as homeless housing, including potentially using vacant apartments around the city, and opening an RV site, according to the report.

“When you have your own room and a door that locks, it makes a big difference,” Elizabeth Funk, founder and head of DignityMoves, told the Chronicle.

Those who are currently living in the tents at 33 Gough Street will be offered spots in the tiny homes if they have not found housing before it opens.

[SFC] — Victoria Pruitt