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SF Opens Its First Tiny Home Village for the Unhoused

The first 30 rooms of a 70-room community opened at 33 Gough Street
By - posted 3/16/2022 No Comment

San Francisco has opened their first tiny home village launching with its first 30 rooms of a 70-room pilot cabin project for people experiencing homelessness located at 33 Gough Street.

“This is a great example of how public and private partners can join together to meet the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness. Expanding our shelter capacity in San Francisco and piloting a new model that offers an alternative to traditional shelters are key steps in our strategy to make a difference for those living on our streets,” says San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

This 70-room community replaces the tents at the current Safe Sleeping Village in the same location. Each room provides guests approximately 64 square feet of private space – which includes a bed, desk and chair, heating, and, most importantly, a door that locks.

The community provides access to the wrap-around services critical toward achieving sustainable independent living. It will have communal bathrooms and showers, dining buildings, offices for support services staff, a computer lab, meeting rooms, and community spaces. The project is utilizing two vacant parking lots leased by HSH. The buildings have an estimated useful life of over 20 years; when the project ends they can be picked up with a forklift and moved to a new location. This portability allows DignityMoves to take advantage of underutilized vacant land that might only be available for a limited time.

DignityMoves believes in the critical role that an alternative shelter model can play in a city’s broader homelessness strategy. DignityMoves’ temporary rooms can be built quickly, and cost less than $30,000 per room. “People who have experienced trauma living on the streets are sometimes hesitant to come to congregate shelters. When offered their own private room, people are more likely to come indoors where they can receive the support they need to overcome barriers and rebuild their lives. Over time we hope that hundreds of people who have previously been sleeping in tents or on the streets will be able to move into these rooms, rebuild stability, and transition to stable housing,” says Elizabeth Funk, Founder and Executive Chairman of DignityMoves.

Urban Alchemy will continue to operate the site providing site management, supportive services, and meals. “Safe shelter in a calm, private space is a critical step in beginning the healing process for many who have been traumatized,” said Dr. Lena Miller, CEO of Urban Alchemy.

“Our guests are excited about this opportunity, and we are proud to partner with DignityMoves and HSH on transitioning the village to individual cabins.” The first 20 rooms will be occupied by the guests who had been sheltered in tents at the Safe Sleeping Village. The remaining 50 rooms will be filled by people identified by the City’s street outreach teams.

Sharon Lai, Executive Director of DignityMoves commented: “We are proud to have built a coalition of broad support with our City partners in this pilot project, which is extremely promising as an alternative to congregate shelters. Utilizing temporarily vacant land, California’s emergency housing codes, existing state and local ordinances, and modern building systems we are able to construct temporary cabin-style projects in a very short time and at minimal cost.”

The construction of the project and fabrication of the structures has been 100% funded by foundations, private sector donors, and supporting community organizations, with HSH funding the lease of the property and the site operations and services. Tipping Point Community contributed $1 million as the anchor donor towards the total budget of approximately $2 million, and Dignity Health made a significant gift, recognizing that housing is a strong determinant of health outcomes. Other generous donors include TODCO, the Ron Conway Family, First Republic Bank, Square, Golden State Warriors, Boston Properties, San Francisco Electrical Construction Industry, and many others. A peer-to-peer campaign amongst Google employees also raised significant funds. Furniture and bedding has been donated by Living Spaces, IKEA, Medline, and Make It Home Bay Area.

Many organizations and neighbors have volunteered to help make the project a welcoming community. A group of local artists have painted murals on the surrounding walls to beautify the parking lot, Gensler and Swinerton employees, Dykes With Drills, and many local families have helped prepare the site and brought welcome baskets, cozy blankets, and other special touches to make each room a welcoming home.