San Jose considers micro homes for homeless to appease complaining residents

The first micro home design (Gensler)
The first micro home design (Gensler)

San Jose officials on Dec. 4 have unveiled two designs for micro home shelters for more than 4,000 homeless people in the city. These homes, designed by Gensler, are a bid to meet the city’s ongoing problem on homelessness and pleasing its residents.

The two concepts, which were created by the San Francisco-based architect free of charge, feature a pleasing aesthetic design. According to the city staff, they range from 80 to 140 sq.ft. but despite their size, they are expected to be efficient, safe, practical and comfortable.

The first design was dubbed as the “folding home.” It has enough room for a bed, a locking door and storage shelves. The second, called “better together”, has a slanted roof, large windows and a small living space.

Gensler’s designs are part of a one-year pilot program launched by the city in August 2017. Under the program, these micro homes will be tested in three locations throughout San Jose. This initiative has gained the state’s support as former assemblywoman Nora Campos eased building codes in 2016 to allow San Jose to build unconventionally small homes.

City officials said that their biggest challenge is determining the sites for micro home communities, which will house up to 25 homeless people each until 2022.

In early 2017, a site has already been chosen but the project was delayed due to opposition from the proposed community’s neighbors. Because of this, officials had to scrap their proposed sites and start their plans from scratch.

With the help of several agencies including Caltrans and the Valley Transportation Authority, the city has already identified 23 new site options.


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