A real estate developer wants to help end the street-living
epidemic in San Francisco by converting shipping
container-like modules into sleek new micro-apartments where the
homeless can live.
The city has long run out of beds to house them — a reality
that cued Panoramic
Interests, which specializes in high-density apartments and
student housing, to get into housing for the homeless. The
developer wants to get people off the streets and into buildings
that offer 160-square-foot, move-in-ready containers stacked on
top of each other.
Business Insider recently toured a prototype module, called
a MicroPad, outside the developer’s San Francisco office. It was
small, but contained all the basic necessities.
A full kitchen includes a food prep area, fridge, stovetop,
and microwave oven. The storage bed and armoire provide ample
space for stashing belongings during the day, while the desk
features shelves for personal goods. Wall outlets run
The Bay Area is home to dozens of shelters, but most of
them lack private bathrooms.
Patrick Kennedy, owner of Panoramic Interests, explains
that the close quarters found in the average homeless shelter
creates tension between residents. The
micro-apartments, in contrast, may prevent conflict by
offering a modicum of privacy.
Kennedy says that the apartment’s aren’t actual shipping
containers, though they arrive in the Port of Oakland atop a
container ship. The MicroPads are taller, include steel
reinforcements around the openings, and have a sealing that
prevents pests and water from getting in.
For its first building, the company has its sights set on a
parking lot where it wants to build a four-story residence. The
installation process may take between four and eight months,
which is about a year less than conventionally built apartment
construction would take.
But it needs a buyer first. Kennedy hopes to lease the
micro-apartments to the city for $1,000 each. Alternatively, a
private group might want to develop the residence as housing for
the homeless. Whoever buys will pick tenants and decide how long
they can stay.
Panoramic Interests aims to shelter 10,000 homeless Californians
over the next three years.