This Micro-Apartment Movement Could be the Answer to the Homelessness Crisis


When something small does very big things.

mini house on a concrete floor
There are more than 7,000 people currently living on the streets of San Francisco, but the solution to the city’s homelessness crisis could come in the form of a 160-sqaure-foot apartment dubbed the MicroPAD.

“Citizens here in San Francisco identify homelessness as the number one problem in the city, yet the government seems to have great difficulty in making apparent progress,” says Patrick Kennedy, the owner of Panoramic Interests, the San Francisco based developer behind the albeit tiny but sleek, high-spec prefabricated apartments he hopes will provide much-needed shelter for those who desperately need it.

“The obvious solution is to build thousands of new dwellings for the homeless, 92% of whom are single,” explains Patrick, who studied law at Harvard University before discovering his passion for real estate. “The MicroPAD is the answer we have come up with. Simple, strong, and easier built on a large scale.” Indeed, the MicroPAD can be erected as a stand-alone dwelling or stacked as part of a 200-unit building up to 12 stories high. What’s more, they’re relatively cheap to produce (approximately 50% less than other supportive housing) and can be easily assembled in under a week. They’re also relocatable and can even be constructed above existing parking lots.

Although the factory-built MicroPAD – inspired by the sleek design of capsule hotels – measures at just 8ft by 20ft, its 9ft ceilings and large 7ft tempered glass windows give the impression of light and space. Each dwelling boasts a desk, kitchen, bathroom and a smart storage area, plus a bed-bug killing UV light under each bed. But there’s more to the MicroPAD than just the aesthetics, it’s been designed to resist fire, flooding and reduce noise.

“Almost half of the population of San Francisco lives alone, and nothing has been built for that group,” continues Patrick, who says that he likes to think that the MicroPAD provides everything you need for urban living but not a square inch more. “I thought that focusing on this need would be the best way to address the growing shortage of housing in the Bay Area.”

Despite the easy appeal of the MicroPAD, the biggest hurdle Patrick currently faces is finding its first location. “The chief obstacle in San Francisco is organised labor,” says Patrick, whom he believes are resisting the concept of the MicroPAD despite the fact that “66% of the work would in fact be done on site by local tradesmen.”

Despite this setback, Patrick hopes that the MicroPAD can provide a solution to the homeless crisis across all major cities in the US. “We are already pitching it in LA, Oakland, and Berkeley,” Patrick concludes. “It could be built anyone close to a port. We would license the plans and specs to other builders or cities.”

We would love to hear your thoughts