Sunday, November 29, 2020

Bay Area Looks to Smaller Modular Units to House the Homeless

As Bay Area communities struggle to safely shelter their unhoused residents during a global pandemic, many have reached the same conclusion: Sometimes, smaller is better.

A sample of the new modular homeless housing units by Connect Homes

With homelessness soaring, shelters that can protect residents from COVID-19 need to be built as quickly as possible. Cities and counties around the Bay Area are experimenting with tiny, modular apartments —  a major departure from traditional, dormitory-style homeless shelters.

Backed in many cases by federal and state pandemic funding, and expedited by new legislation, modular shelters are in the works in cities from San Jose to Berkeley. At about 100 square feet per unit, each provides residents with their own room and locking door — though they vary widely in other comforts. The idea is for residents to live there until they find permanent housing, which could take several months.

So far, the modular shelters coming to the Bay Area are small-scale pilot programs, which officials intend to expand if they’re successful. There’s no telling how much, if any, funding will be left to continue those efforts once the pandemic eases. But advocates are hopeful this marks a shift toward a widespread and permanent alternative to traditional homeless shelters.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Mercury News article

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