Patrick Kennedy, the developer of micro-unit apartment complexes like this one we just wrote about the other week, now has his sights set on developing inexpensive, modular supportive housing for the homeless which he will then lease back to the city, constructed out of shipping containers and therefore stackable and scalable for various sites. The only problem, as the Chronicle reports, is that he's getting pushback from the city namely new homelessness and supportive housing department head Jeff Kositsky about the reliance on publicly-owned land for Kennedy's proposal, and from trade unions who object to Kennedy's plan to have the modular units assembled in China, rather than here in the US.
The idea of using shipping containers to create dwelling units isn't a new one, and you can find modular homes marketed in the back of Dwell, made out of containers. Also, as in the video above, entrepreneurs like that guy have stuck containers together to create affordable housing in other ways too.
Kennedy's concept is much nicer than that though, as diagrammed here, and would allow for free-standing structures were homeless in need of services could be housed together, and receive drug treatment, etc. He says he's open to negotiations with the city, but suggests that if private land has to be purchased it just means the per-unit rent will have to go up. He sees the shipping-container construction method as the most viable and quickest solution right now, with the possibility of stacking 200 160-square-foot units all in one spot he's suggesting building over a publicly owned parking garage on Cesar Chavez where it intersects with Highway 101. If the land comes for free, he sees being able to charge the city $1,000/month per unit. If he has to pay for land, the price would go up to $1,200/month but he still says that the prefabricated metal containers are a cheaper solution than any other type of modular construction, including wood-based modular units like ones that were recently stacked to create a development in the Bayview. Those were constructed by a no defunct fabricator in Sacramento.
Kennedy has pitched the same idea in Los Angeles, where, as the Chron reports, Marc Trotz, director of housing for the homeless for the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, says, "modular housing is very exciting," and "There has to be something between a cardboard box on the street and a $400,000 unit that we can do."
Kositsky tells the paper "I’m willing to sit down and talk if [Kennedy's proposal] meets code, provides good jobs, and if he’s not talking about using public land that land is precious, and we have to be good stewards of it. We’re already master leasing from private landlords [of residential hotels]. Why not this, too?"
For his part, Kennedy seems optimistic that they will strike a deal. And on October 21 he says he'll be unveiling the first model modular unit, with a tricked out shipping container outside his office at Ninth and Mission.