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MicroPAD apartments may soon help alleviate San Francisco’s homeless population

A city comprised of roughly 860,000 residents, San Francisco is also home to a staggering amount of homeless people. According to Bay Area-based housing firm Panoramic Interests, roughly 7,000 people consider the streets of San Francisco their home, however, it’s just debuted a plan to help combat this growing issue. Referred to as a MicroPAD, as in prefabricated affordable dwelling, Panoramic’s solution is a 160-square foot, pre-fabricated abode capable of stacking 12 units tall and costing no more than $1,000 per month — paid for by the city, of course.

A modern engineering marvel, each MicroPAD plans to feature a healthy dose of comfortable features including a full bathroom, a twin-size bed, a kitchenette, and a mid-sized desk. Despite its miniature floorplan, the residence boasts nine-foot ceilings which helps the space look and feel much bigger than it actually is. What is most striking about the units is the fact each looks no different than a modern studio apartment — albeit a bit narrow. These are not thrown together heaps of dated appliances; MicroPADs are undoubtedly genuine.

“The ‘Housing First’ approach offers rapid provision of permanent housing for homeless populations and has been proven an effective remedy to chronic homelessness,” said Panoramic Interests in its MicroPAD Executive Summary Sheet. “But creating housing in a city where new development averages $1,200 per square foot is no simple task. The MicroPAD by Panoramic Interests can do just that, getting people off the streets and into high-quality housing quickly and economically.”

Currently, Panoramic is working on finding suitable real estate in San Francisco to place a neighborhood of MicroPAD units. Be it a typically unappealing unused lot or on top of a parking structure, the firm is open to any option so long as it’s capable of keeping overall costs down. With demo models currently built to entice the city, Panoramic says it is ready to mass produce a lineup of units in its factory should San Francisco give it the green light.

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If decision makers deem MicroPADs a proper fix for San Francisco’s homeless population, Panoramic plans on leasing the unit’s development to the city — including the ability to determine who gets the privilege of living in the homes. It’s likely San Francisco will be on board with the MicroPADs as each unit deftly tops the city’s earthquake regulations, is capable of being manufactured 50 percent quicker than most prefabricated homes, and costs around 40 percent less than regular homes.