Solving homelessness is not easy, but the good news is that there are many different parties trying to tackle this hard and complex problem.
Patrick Kennedy, the owner of the development company Panoramic Interests, is one of them with its prefabricated — thus affordable — MicroPADs offering a place to live for one person, or possibly a couple.
The fully furnished, 20′ by 8′ foot steel box is reminiscent of a shipping container and designed in a way to allow stacking many of them on top of each other when they become a building of small housing units.
The MicroPAD — PAD stands for Prefab Affordable Dwelling — is prefabricated in China to lower the cost. Nevertheless, each unit has its own front door and large window with those positioned on the side of a building having two. There’s a mud-room area to hang clothes that includes a bench on which to sit when taking off shoes. Every unit has a fridge-freezer, a sink and a combination oven-microwave.
A day bed has storage underneath, as well as a “black light” which is said to destroy bed bugs. A micro closet can hold clothes, and a separate closet is for a broom and cleaning products.
The unit is designed with 24/7 ventilation and has pet-friendly surfaces. An opaque curved glass wall defines the private bathroom with a shower and toilet, grab rails, hooks and decorative blue nighttime lighting. Drainage in the bathroom allows the whole unit to be hosed down if needed.
The concept was created with the idea to provide housing for 5,000 Bay Area homeless people in five years, with plans to bring it to other places, as well.
According to Kennedy, it would cost Panoramic between $20-$25 million to build a 4-story, 100-unit micro-housing unit in Berkley, California — depending on factors like access, traffic control and infrastructure. Chances are that a similar project would have a significantly lower cost in other parts of the world.
His proposal, if approved, would see the city giving him the air rights to a public property, he would finance the development, and he would charge $1,000 per unit per month. A housing nonprofit would oversee the day-to-day management of the building, while Panoramic would handle structural maintenance.
The MicroPAD concept was created with the idea to provide housing for 5,000 Bay Area homeless people in five years, with plans to bring it to other places, as well.
Homelessness is on the agenda of every (local) politician. It's not as sexy as building bridges and schools, but it's an important issue, nonetheless. MicroPAD offers concrete and affordable solution and as such, it should be considered by any left-leaning politician looking to get something done during his/her tenure. Such a project could be relatively quick to deploy, helping the official score points for his/her ability to solve real problems. This further translates into votes and career advancements.
A project like MicroPAD could be pitched to local officials as a concrete way to help solve the homelessness in the city. Compared to similar containers, it is more modular — allowing developers to make entire buildings using MicroPADs as building blocks. Still, it is an affordable solution that could help savvy businesses with a (local) government contract. And if it proves viable, the next one will follow. Start by contacting Panoramic Interests and take it from there.