16th and Mission Streets. Photo by Walter Mackins

Sixty ‘tiny homes’ for the homeless could go up next to 16th St. BART — if the community abides. 

Supervisor Hillary Ronen told Mission Local that she is considering 1979 Mission St. as a potential destination for city-funded “tiny homes,” shed-like structures with a bed, locks, and heat intended for homeless individuals. Tiny homes are meant to be lived in temporarily, with the hope that residents eventually move into permanent housing.

“I don’t want anybody sleeping on the streets of the Mission,” Ronen said. “The bottom line is, there are not enough spaces for all the people experiencing homelessness in the city. So we have to create more.” 

The 16th Street tiny homes could take care of 60 of the 664 unhoused residents tallied in District 9 during the 2022 Point-In-Time count.   

Tiny homes could be a win-win solution, the supervisor said, and she and the city are negotiating guarantees that the Mission’s unhoused gets first dibs. “The whole point is we are providing these life-changing services for [the homeless], but also improving street conditions.”

Plenty of characteristics made 1979 Mission St., known colloquially as the Monster/Marvel in the Mission, a favorable site: It’s large, vacant, and thanks to a 2021 development deal, owned by the city. 

Though the site will eventually welcome some 300 affordable housing units, it has been dormant for years. If the tiny homes are constructed there, hopes are they will be transferred to another site once the affordable housing construction starts, Ronen said.

It’s not a done deal, yet though. While the city already approved the funding for tiny homes, Ronen said, the city and supervisor want the community’s input before deciding they belong in the Mission. 

“It cannot be done until we do all the outreach in the community, and we address concerns,” Ronen said. Then, “we decide if it still makes sense.”

One anticipated worry? Less than a quarter mile from the proposed tiny home village is Marshall Elementary School. To introduce parents to the idea, Ronen took some Marshall Parent Teacher Association members to tour 33 Gough St. weeks ago. That site was the city’s first tiny home village; it officially opened this year with homes built at $15,000 a pop. “It’s calm and peaceful, there’s no chaos. They were really impressed,” Ronen said. The tour left Ronen feeling she would be thrilled to have her own kids “learn next to something so positive.”

In January, Ronen plans on holding at least one exclusive meeting about tiny homes with the Marshall community, and another that is open to the general public. 

Mission Local reached out to the Marshall PTA, but has not heard back. 

Ronen wants to model the Mission’s tiny homes after Gough’s, though the chosen developer will decide the design. The Gough tiny homes are 64-square-feet, have heat, a desk, a bed, and a window, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Tiny homes change the entire feeling of what temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness was like,” the supervisor said. “I’ve never seen a better short-term shelter option before. It feels like a community, a neighborhood.”

Mission Local visited 33 Gough St., and was politely denied entry by an Urban Alchemy staffer, who manages services and secures the site. However, a peek through the fence revealed prettily painted tiny homes, and an outdoor space spruced up with tables, benches, bushes and plants.

On Thursday afternoon, a couple of men, one who appeared to be smoking a cigarette, talked quietly at one of the tables. Another man dressed in a Pikachu onesie bent outside a home. One woman recognized another man and greeted him good-humoredly. “Mr. Africa!” She grinned. “You were dancing to that music last time, weren’t you?”

“I think it’s helping them,” said Antuan Jones, a security guard across the street at the Human Services Agency. He said this is an upgrade from the site’s previous purpose as a “safe sleeping village,” which hosted 44 tents and counseling for the unhoused. Jones imagined fighting off the elements in a tent was “horrible. You’re still getting the rain, the wind is blowing your tent.”

Though he sits across from the tiny homes day after day, Jones said he hardly notices it. “They’re very quiet over there,” he said. 

Wilson Garcia, a day porter on McCoppin Street, has observed that since the tiny home village opened this spring, fewer encampments have sprung up. “Before, you cross under the trees,” he said, motioning to some in the middle of McCoppin Street, “and you’d see 10 tents. Now, it’s one or two. People call the police, and they’re gone.” 

Overall, the streets are cleaner, Garcia said, and he sees less trash overall.  

LaDiamond Garrett, who was parking her car at McCoppin Street, said the village may have reduced the number of unhoused people crowding her work. “I hope it works out,” Garrett said. 

“They either piss, or shit, or leave their needles on the sidewalk. I’d rather have them there,” a terse passerby quipped. 

If approved, the Mission tiny homes could arrive, at earliest, by the end of 2023 or early 2024, Ronen said. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing did not respond to Mission Local’s requests for comment. 

Tiny homes are a fairly new tool to combat homelessness, and have been adopted by San Jose and Oakland in recent years. Unhoused residents and advocates say the individualistic nature of tiny homes allow privacy and security, which make them preferable to homeless shelters. 

However the city’s ultimate goal — and thus, metric of success — is how many folks transition to permanent housing. A recent Mercury News investigation found mixed results about whether a tiny home resident ended up scoring permanent supportive housing. Still, the investigation found those who lived in tiny homes were more likely to find permanency than those living in congregate shelters. 

And, the more amenities and resources offered at a tiny home village, the more likely the resident transitioned to permanent housing. As the city stands to lose homeless and addiction resources like family homeless shelters and the Tenderloin Center, tiny homes could be important, said the security guard, Jones. 

“There should be more of them,” Jones said. “Why not build something for the homeless?” 


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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. Take another look at McCoppin (and around the block – that closed park on Valencia) instead of just passing by one afternoon – the 311 requests show a different story. There’s filth (feces, needles, trash) AND an empty corner that should house hundreds of people.

  2. If the tiny home village is slated to come online at the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024 and construction on 1979 Mission is supposed to start in 2024, is this going to be a few months deal, money laundering?

    And the last thing that the North Mission needs is Urban Alchemy “practitioners” rooting around the neighborhood.

    Out of curiosity, the North Mission takes hit after hit that no other neighborhood in SF would ever be made to take. The 4 affordable housing buildings over 20 yr were nice, but what’s in it for the neighborhood above and beyond social services?

    To the powers that be, the North Mission is an nothing more than an opportunity site for luxury condo developers, businesses and nonprofits, residents be damned.

  3. Jesus, the comments here have such a toxic view of the unhoused. Have some compassion, people. Please.

  4. I live by 33 Gough st. The people here are so kind and respectful. It really does feel like a community with a good support system. I’m always rooting for them and I think the city should have more of these for the unhoused. Good on Ronen.

  5. Glad to hear there are concerns over neighbors before they act on this one. It sounds rather good but, please let the neighbors decide what is appropriate for them.

  6. The city has proven itself incapable of managing any of its “supervised” sites, including the one at 33 Gough and the one near SVN and 26th. All are characterized by fighting, drug use, dealers, and the increased proliferation of tents around the sites.
    I am sick of the Mission being a dumping ground. No to this. And no to the so caleed “safe” injection sites too.

  7. What is the point? It will be like other the other “tiny homes” built in CA. Insane contractor pricing and you end up with “dual use” homes…that way you can shoot H and come and go as you please. California really has no plans (and certainly not SF) to do anything other than enrich “The Party” and all of its allies in the “non profits” and other arms of the DNC.

  8. I live in the Mission and I’m willing to give this a try. But it is wildly unfair for working people who spend hours every week commuting to and from SF to see others who do nothing living at taxpayer expense in the city.

    1. Perhaps, “the do nothing”, as you labelled them, might be able to start “doing something”, once they have a secure place to shower & sleep.

      Are you aware that there are working homeless people? They make such little money, they cant afford to pay rent

  9. 16th /Mission is already crowded as it is. I don’t understand the idea of putting up more stuff there, it’s one thing of it’s in a more open undeveloped spot. Further more, it annoys me that other cities send their homeless problems to SF. I’m tired of seeing what was once a vibrant city made a mockery of its liberal values. It’s about time we drew some boundaries. So that things can improve.

  10. 16th and Mission for a tiny homes village. Wow. That would be a disservice to folks trying to utilize public transportation on that busy intersection as well as to the potential villagers. Just not enough room, unless they stacked them somehow. Why not try to repurpose a closed gas station property (isn’t there one over on 14th?), or has that thought sailed on into the sunset?

  11. Sound by like it a jail cell or concentration camp . I bet it’s rap with a beautiful fence with a bow on it .Out of site out of site mind . sounds like a good place to put all the jay cats and wing nuts ya no but thanks . W.T.F

    1. More than half of your neighbors are functioning addicts you just don’t know it . There just good at hiding it. We need to get all the dam crazy,wing nuts,jay cats ,people that can’t take care of the selfs . And give people jobs taking care of them .or just get ride of them all together.Y wast the time and 💰 on something if it’s never going to be fixed ,take care of them self .

      1. If someone is functional and not sleeping on the street or on the dole for all of their lives, that’s their own business. Or they can get treatment. The point is that they should not be allowed to harm anyone else.

  12. why is the Mission chosen always as the place to house the homeless? Other neighborhoods should share the burden.

    1. Seriously! The inner Mission has been the dumping ground for all of the city’s problems – why is it that 33 Gough (within 4 blocks of this new proposed site of 16th/Mission) – also a Tiny Homes site which was never publicized nor approved by its close neighbors? As someone who lives within 2 blocks of both 33 Gough and 16th/Mission, I find this deplorable. I am not saying that I disapprove of housing homeless people – I am all in favor, as long as drugs and bad behavior are forbidden! – but why were the neighbors not advised?

  13. Do the tiny homes have toilets? If so, let’s build them.

    Human feces on the street is not just unsightly: it’s a health hazard, and there’s more every year. The city isn’t taking this seriously at all.

    But please, let’s not combine this with drug-use centers. San Francisco is entirely too attractive to junkies as it is. We should take better care of our “local” homeless while not becoming a magnet.

    1. Absolutely! We should not allow any so-called “safe injection sites” to be located in vulnerable working-class and impoverished neighborhoods like the inner Mission…if we absolutely want to do a safe injection site, I might recommend locating it at the public health department near City Hall!

    2. There are toilets around the Mission, including at 16th St, Dolores Park, and elsewhere. There still are feces on the street.

  14. The majority of homeless are hopelessly drug addicted and mentally ill and incapable of turning their lives around. They need to be removed from the streets and institutionalized. Free housing isn’t going to help turn them into responsible citizens. No tiny homes for drug addicted vagrants, please. Save the Mission!

  15. Let’s call these what they are: Shanties. San Francisco wants to build a taxpayer-funded shantytown.

    This does not “combat homelessness” in any meaningful way. It is a small step up from living in a tent, another temporary “solution”, a bigger band-aid. It is only going to help a small number of people, while impacting the larger neighborhood.

    Why put it right next to one of the busiest public transit areas, at a time when we want more people to use public transit? There have to be less obtrusive, better locations.

    Without real, persistent, individual assistance to help these unfortunate people get sane, and/or get off drugs, and/or get a job, this is more about making people “feel better” about “doing something” (and getting unsightly tents out of the way) than anything else.

    1. I absolutely agree! It makes zero sense to make 16th and Mission even more of a dangerous mess than it already is – especially if we have a goal as a city to increase (rather than decrease) use of public transit! Let’s please put the tiny homes into a place where they will not create a hindrance for people who simply want to live and work in the neighborhood! I don’t use public transit unless absolutely necessary – because it’s already so dangerous to walk the few blocks past the existing gauntlet of drug dealers and users…Why should we want to put more of them into the mix?

  16. The City put tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors and marines into temporary quarters under apartment houses in the Tenderloin one of them below what was a Sally Stanford pleasure den and I know cause there were still some there when Ania and I managed it 30 years later.

    During the Gold Rush they put hinges on the wooden sidewalks and dug holes underneath and rolled the drunks in.

    Or, we could send it all to Treasure Island.

    Go Niners !!


  17. The insanity of setting up vagrants, in one of the most expensive cities in the world continues. A playground for the rich is the only real solution.

    1. Why not build a village community in the east bay with all surrounding counties to contributing to it. Centralize those services and help more people for less cost. Even at $15k/build it will still cost taxpayers 50-100k to manage each one.
      16 & Mission already has all the SRO’s. Place it somewhere less concentrated. People are already alarmed by that intersection when they come out of Bart.

    2. Yes!!! Let’s do it! City Hall has also the Public Health Department, which could safely administer the so-called “safe injections” for our friends and keep everyone safe and sound.