Berkeley Approves Tiny Houses for the Homeless

In a unanimous City Council vote, Berkeley passes initiative to house 100 homeless people in pre-fabricated micro-units.

As many as 1,200 people are living on the streets in Berkeley, according to a recent Berkeley City Council report. Berkeley City Council hopes to put a dent in that number with steel micro-apartments that serve as tiny houses.

Under the Step Up Housing Initiative passed unanimously at their February 14 meeting, Berkeley City Council approved 100 of micro-units to be installed on city-owned land and be offered as housing to the homeless. While the developer and design of these units have not yet been selected, one concept under consideration is the stackable MicroPAD seen above. (“PAD” stands for “Prefabricated Affordable Housing”.)

“Local governments have a duty to ensure the welfare of all their people,” Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett said in a release. “Berkeley’s Step Up Housing will provide a road map for future supportive housing developments that can be replicated in other affected communities. Municipalities and states must be vigilant to ensure that public funds are being spent effectively, efficiently, and in a manner that best serves the community.”

Homeless seniors and people with disabilities are likely to get first priority on placement in the micro-units. The site where the boxcar units will be placed is still not determined, though health care and social services will be provided onsite.

MicroPAD units have been proposed in San Francisco, though no plans have been approved or formalized. The MicroPAD designer, San Francisco-based firm Panoramic Interests, displayed a prototype model outside Berkeley City Hall in January.

NOTE: An earlier version of ths article misidentified the overall size of the Berkeley population. The Berkeley population is just over 112,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.



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