Photo: Mike Kepka / The Chronicle
Homelessness is a significant public policy issue with no definitive solution. Many communities are tasked with a problem that will not go away. San Francisco is notoriously known for its high population of transients. The city has taken a tougher stance of late, by strictly enforcing a law that bans sitting and lying on sidewalks from 7 am to 11 pm. This comes in the wake of the city’s annual Project Homeless Connect. The 38th go-round of this project provided general medical services and shelter, among other needs for the homeless.
Yet, the real problem for San Francisco, and no doubt for many other large cities, is the flow of homeless coming and going. As soon as some are taken off the streets, others file in, seemingly taking their place. Shortly before leaving office, Mayor Gavin Newsom addressed the issue with the San Francisco Chronicle, citing permanent housing as the real solution, while more costly on the front end – will ultimately reduce the overall outlay. Furthermore, Homeless Policy Director, Dariush Kayhan, told the Chronicle that the bottom line is it’s cheaper to house homeless folks in permanent supportive housing than to leave them homeless on the streets. While this might be that definitive solution some are looking for, San Francisco has already spent $1 Billion on the homeless since Newsom originally took office in 2004.
With costs for just about everything continually rising, Vancouver, British Columbia is contemplating the use of container-based housing. The proposal cites huge advantages in efficiency and cost, while providing more stable living for those at risk of becoming or are already homeless. According to project builder, JWT Consulting,
You could, in theory, drop this on the site and be drywalling two days later. That would never happen on a traditional building. One of the major efficiencies is just the schedule – the longer the schedule, the more expensive stuff is. (The Globe and Mail)
Photo: The Globe and Mail
Containers could be donated, or cost as little as $6,000. Similar types of housing units have been implemented before internationally. Such an option may not be feasible for a less-than-spacious San Francisco, but it could be the answer many communities are looking for.