There are more than 7,000 people currently living on the streets of San Francisco, but the solution to the cityâ€™s homelessness crisis could come in the form of a 160-sqaure-foot apartment dubbed the MicroPAD.
â€œCitizens 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,â€ 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.
â€œThe obvious solution is to build thousands of new dwellings for the homeless, 92% of whom are single,â€ explains Patrick, who studied law at Harvard University before discovering his passion for real estate. â€œThe MicroPAD is the answer we have come up with. Simple, strong, and easier built on a large scale.â€ 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. Whatâ€™s more, theyâ€™re relatively cheap to produce (approximately 50% less than other supportive housing) and can be easily assembled in under a week. Theyâ€™re also relocatable and can even be constructed above existing parking lots.
Although the factory-built MicroPAD â€“ inspired by the sleek design of capsule hotels â€“ 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 thereâ€™s more to the MicroPAD than just the aesthetics, itâ€™s been designed to resist fire, flooding and reduce noise.
â€œAlmost half of the population of San Francisco lives alone, and nothing has been built for that group,â€ 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. â€œI thought that focusing on this need would be the best way to address the growing shortage of housing in the Bay Area.â€
â€” inhabitat (@inhabitat) December 21, 2016
Despite the easy appeal of the MicroPAD, the biggest hurdle Patrick currently faces is finding its first location. â€œThe chief obstacle in San Francisco is organised labor,â€ says Patrick, whom he believes are resisting the concept of the MicroPAD despite the fact that â€œ66% of the work would in fact be done on site by local tradesmen.â€
Despite this setback, Patrick hopes that the MicroPAD can provide a solution to the homeless crisis across all major cities in the US. â€œWe are already pitching it in LA, Oakland, and Berkeley,â€ Patrick concludes. â€œIt could be built anyone close to a port. We would license the plans and specs to other builders or cities.â€