To go with their new plan to help curb homelessness by 50% by 2020, San Francisco is proceeding with a proposal to build modular housing for the homeless at Seventh and Mission.
According to the Chronicle, this plan is notable because it's the first time that the local building trades union have agreed to not step in the way of new multifamily residential construction. Kate Hartley, director for the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, spoke with the Chron about their accord with the unions, saying, "They understand that housing the homeless in San Francisco is vitally important. Our goal is to build units as fast as possible, so we can get people off the streets as fast as possible."
The details of the deal make it hard to deny that this could have a positive impact on the city's most intractable problem. The modular housing will be built on vacant land located at 1068 Mission St., right behind the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals building, which was recently ceded from the federal government to the city. It'll be donated to the city for only $1, but the caveat is that this project has to be built and finished within three years of the transfer. Hartley pointed out to the Chronicle that "[with] conventional construction we would never make that deadline." But since they're able to use off-site modular construction, the project can be finished that much faster.
Previously, Google made headlines as they considered modular housing to help with their own employee housing crisis. For that, they turned to a Vallejo startup called Factory OS. They ended up ordering 300 units from them, likely to be placed somewhere on North Bayshore in Mountain View. That particular parcel of land also made news as Google is currently battling with the city of Mountain View over how to portion out development of the area, demanding more office space.
Regarding San Francisco's previous issues with modular housing, developer Patrick Kennedy tried to propose a similar idea last fall, only his suggestion was to use shipping containers instead of pre-fabricated modular structures like these that were recently used in a Bayview project. Just like with the current plan, the main problem with Kennedy's plan was that trade unions weren't happy with the fact that these shelters would be constructed in China instead of the U.S. As well, the current "homeless czar" Joseph Kositsky expressed concern over how Kennedy planned for these structures to be placed on federal land.
Again, the city's current plan addresses both of these issues specifically, with trade unions agreeing to step aside in order to make sure the shelters go up, and the federal government turning over the land to the city for that token $1 price tag.