White cabin-looking housing built in a lot at 1979 Mission St. A white car parked in between housing.
Construction site of Mission Cabins, also known as "tiny homes", on Feb. 23, 2024. Photo by Xueer Lu.

Mission Cabins, a village of 60 tiny homes serving up to 68 adults experiencing homelessness, hopes to open by the end of March at 1979 Mission Street next to the 16th St. BART plaza, and to begin services in early April. 

The city recently awarded a two-year, $2.9-million-a-year contract to manage the site to Five Keys Schools and Programs, a nonprofit. Five Keys also manages the Embarcadero SAFE Navigation Center, a site for shorter stays for people with substance-use disorders. 

Steve Good, president and chief executive officer of Five Keys, said that the nonprofit will be offering 24/7 services such as property management, case management, cleaning inside and outside of the site, room checks, and maintenance. “It’ll be pretty comprehensive services, not just for the site,” Good added. “But also to be good neighbors with the community.” 

On Friday, the former parking lot was busy with activity: Trucks and workers were going in and out, transporting construction materials. Some white cabins and metallic bathrooms had been installed, and eight-foot poles for the fences had gone up. 

Across from the site, at Capp and Adair streets, some 10 neighbors stood in a circle with city staff for a community meeting to go over a draft of an agreement with the Healthy Streets Operation Center and Departments of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Public Works, and Police.

The draft proposed a list of policies to ease concerns previously raised by nearby residents, as well as some parents at Marshall Elementary School, a K-5 public school adjacent to the site.The city agreed that the Capp Street entrance and exit to the cabins will only be used for emergencies, any tents on the sidewalk in front will be immediately reported to 311 by staff, and Homelessness and Supportive Housing will create an incident dashboard to track service requests and 311/911 calls. 

“I’m happy to see them add in a lot of the things that we requested,” said Naomi Fox, PTA president at Marshall, listing more items such as a minimum of three perimeter inspections daily, and collecting litter around the site. “It’s happy to see a step in a positive direction.”

A man who gave his name as George, who has been living on Adair Street since 2002, asked about the program’s opening date.

“I’m going to say April 1, but it might shift,” said Emily Cohen, deputy director for communications and legislative affairs at Homelessness and Supportive Housing. It might shift depending on where we are with construction.” 

The preparation for move-in, Cohen said, has been an ongoing process: Outreach workers from Homelessness and Supportive Housing have been quietly identifying a list of more than 100 people who have been living for many months in nearby encampments. They plan to invite 10 to 20 people per week into the site until it reaches full capacity.  Upon moving into the tiny homes, guests will have access to on-site bathrooms, showers, community space, case management and up to two meals a day. 

“We will literally walk people over with the outreach team if they’re in an encampment, or if they’re just, like, an individual hanging out in the street,” Cohen said.

Cohen emphasized the role of Santiago Lerma, Supervisor Hilary Ronen’s former legislative aide and the director of Mission Streets Condition Response. Ronen promised Lerma’s participation last October in a community meeting where she was bashed by residents for quietly agreeing to the cabins. Cohen said Lerma would be out on the street on a “daily basis, leveraging city resources to address challenges.”

“I can’t stop somebody from smoking fentanyl on the street. But I can be out here,” Lerma said. “I can talk to people. I can communicate with Captain Harvey [of SFPD’s Mission Station] on a daily basis about things all around the Mission. I’ll be coming here every day.”

“I was worried, but now I think it’s looking pretty good,” said Aaron Wojack, a resident who has been living on the block for two and a half years. “Better than the old parking lot.”

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Xueer is a data reporter for Mission Local through the California Local News Fellowship. Xueer is a bilingual multimedia journalist fluent in Chinese and English and is passionate about data, graphics, and innovative ways of storytelling. Xueer graduated from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with a Master's Degree in May 2023. She also loves cooking, photography, and scuba diving.

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  1. Thanks for the reporting, it is good to hear and see some of the commitments from the City and Five Keys. We in the community will need to ensure that the city and everyone holds seriously to that commitment to make the neighborhood better, and am cautiously optimistic.

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  2. In response to Robert’s comment, I’m the one who has lived on Adair since 2002, and in the surrounding Inner Mission since 1990. The reporter left out a lot of the various neighbors’ conversation and failed to research all the basic background facts. Here in our area around the corner from the 16th st. BART station, we have experienced all kinds of urban decay and everything that comes with it- crime, filth, feces!! lack of adequate services to clean the streets, timely address drug users overdosing and mentally impaired in crisis at all hours. I miss the Walgreens there at that lot!! They had to close many years ago because of rampant theft and some customers’ aggressive behavior.
    Long term residents have heard it all from each Mission station police captain, D9 supervisor, PUC , DPW, etc. over 15 years of our organized group trying to engage them. Of course they made false promises. I’m skeptical about this $100k per cabin!! village but will try to be optimistic that it will be ok. I’m looking forward to the City building permanent affordable housing as they own that lot. A much better use of money.

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  3. In an article about homelessness, the phrase “living on Adair Street since 2002” is a bit ambiguous. I’m assuming that this person has a home there, but I recommend clearer language to avoid confusion.

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  4. LOL has the Mission fallen so far that “better than an old parking lot” is now the standard to which our community projects are judged?

    When social housing is the only business that is allowed to build, we are on the fast track to becoming the bad part of town.

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  5. I live at 15th and Mission and am skeptical about this whole thing. There should be a no drugs and alcohol policy for the site, a curfew and full time security.

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  6. The best part about this is that Five Keys is going to be running the site, not Dolores Street Community Services or Urban Alchemy. Lerma said that DSCS did not “qualify.” I wonder why the Mayor drew up the “qualifications” such that DSCS did not qualify. All of that chest puffing and thumping against residents at the December meeting was for nothing. Our corner of the North Mission really dodged two bullets with this.

    Contrast what’s happening to the North Mission on this with what went down in North Beach/Chinatown with the sober living facility. Conservative mayors who will never win the Mission use our district as their free fire zone because for the past 15 years, D9 supes have been held down by the mayor with threats of cutting off funding to operations like DSCS.

    Lerma asked me what I wanted. I replied “A supervisor who is not inept at politics who goes to bat for their constituents.” It is this snide contempt for residents that gives door knocker Chandler a shot at the seat.

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