The on-again, off-again effort to open 60 tiny homes for the homeless is complete, though a large fence surrounds the entrance of the new facility called “Mission Cabins” in apparent hopes that passersby won’t notice it.

Back in 2016, developers had hoped to turn the former Walgreens at 16th Street BART Plaza into a giant luxury condo project that critics nicknamed the “Monster in the Mission.” But that whole deal fell through before the pandemic, and the City of San Francisco bought the property in order to turn it into a 100% affordable housing project.

Yet that won’t even break ground for a couple years. So in the interim, a proposal to turn the property into a temporary tiny home facility for homeless housing generated neighborhood opposition, but was eventually approved.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

Now Mission Local reports that the facility called “Mission Cabins” opened to residents today. Though likely because of that neighborhood opposition, the Mission Street entrance is barricaded by black gates and not at all visible from the street. The project is being operated by the SF Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), with onsite services provided by the adult education nonprofit Five Keys Schools and Programs.

The tiny-home site occupies the former Walgreens parking lot, and those staying in the cabins will not be entering and exiting from that parking lot's old entrance on the alley, Capp Street, because of the proximity of Marshall Elementary School — parents from which had raised opposition to this being a shelter site.

“The new Mission Cabins will provide a critical new space in our work to bring people off the streets and into a safe, stable environment,” Mayor London Breed said in a Monday release (even though she’s in China). “We want people indoors, where it’s safe and where they can get on the path to a more secure, long-term housed environment. That’s who we end homelessness for people who need help and it’s how we prevent long-term encampments in our neighborhoods.”


But Mission Local got a tour of the facility last week, and has pictures of the units’ interiors, exteriors, and outdoor common spaces. According to that outlet, there are 60 tiny house units, though the facility can house up to 68 because some of the units are doubles for couples. The single-occupant units are 65 square feet.

The units do not have individual restrooms, though there are shared restrooms and showers on-site. The tiny homes don’t come with kitchens either, but residents will have two meals delivered each day.

There are some fairly strict rules. Residents have to check in and out every time they come and go. And if a resident is gone for longer than 48 hours, they’ll be considered to have abandoned the place and their unit will be given to someone else.

That said, residents are allowed to have pets, and are also provided with storage units on-site to keep any possessions that don’t fit in the room — making this similar to Navigation Center sites the city has previously erected.

Only five people are being admitted each day, but the first residents were scheduled to be admitted Monday. Mission Local spoke to one tenant who was scheduled to move in today, who has been living on the street near 16th and Mission. “I’m going in the morning on Monday,” that resident Antoine Waite told the site. “I want to get established starting from there.”

Related: Tiny House Village for the Homeless Opens at the Foot of Gough Street [SFNews]

Image: SF Public Works