A plan to put up 70 temporary tiny homes/cabins in the former Walgreens parking lot behind the 16th and Mission BART plaza, ahead of a planned affordable development, may be getting killed after negative community feedback.
It is another case of San Franciscans coming out in force against a homeless shelter or Navigation Center coming to their midst, and Supervisor Hillary Ronen sounds like she's getting cold feet as a result. The plan was to emulate an existing tiny-cabin homeless shelter site at 33 Gough Street, and put up 70 more of these modular cabins behind the boarded up Walgreens, on the property at 1979 Mission Street that was once going to be home to a huge, controversial development dubbed the Monster in the Mission.
The property was ultimately acquired by the city early last year, and there are plans for a 100%-affordable project to be built there, starting in 2025.
For the next two years, though, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) had hoped to house some of the neighborhood's homeless in what is increasingly becoming appealing to cities as a stepping stone to permanent housing, tiny cabins. Advocates say these are more humane forms of shelter than group shelters, and that homeless people living in tents are more likely to accept placement in these tiny homes because they offer privacy, heat, and bathroom facilities.
As the Chronicle reports, Ronen got an earful from at least 100 residents of the neighborhood at a recent community meeting, and many of those residents objected to the tiny-cabin site over concerns about its proximity to Marshall Elementary School."
Marshall Elementary is at 15th and Capp streets, immediately next door to the parking lot that once served Walgreens off of Capp. As the Chronicle reports, parents who say their kids already have to encounter many homeless people using drugs on sidewalks on their way to and from school shouldn't have a hub like this installed next to their school.
HSH already has $7 million (!) earmarked in their budget for the tiny-cabin project, and the city already owns the site which will otherwise sit empty. But neighbors want it to go somewhere else.
Ronen tells the Chronicle, "One thing is the cost. But the other thing is the city's ability to keep the conditions around these sites acceptable. The street conditions are abysmal. But unless I’m convinced it will improve the neighborhood, I won’t approve it."
That cost, which comes to approximately $100,000 per cabin, is an estimate, but it reflects what are likely larger issues with how HSH does things. (Remember those $60,000/year tents?) The CEO of the nonprofit, DignityMoves, that built the 33 Gough Street cabin site for about $15,000 per cabin, with donated furnishings, tells the Chronicle, "There are benefits to having a nonprofit and not the government building these things."
In any event, 70 cabins will provide just a drop in the bucket of what the city needs in terms of shelter beds and supportive housing units — like about 1% of the 6,000 beds that are estimated to be needed to "solve homelessness" SF. And $7 million could be better used constructing actual units, or something that will serve more people.
Photo via Google Street View