- A San Francisco housing organization transformed a garage into three small apartments.
- The affordable housing units cost $600,000 and are seen as a victory in the city’s housing crisis.
- But critics told San Francisco Standard the cost of the units is high considering the square footage.
Garages in California’s Bay Area used to be the birthplaces of the world’s biggest tech companies — but now they may serve as an answer to the region’s housing crisis.
An organization in San Francisco has turned a six-car garage into three 550- to 600-square-foot units, each with a bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchen.
The units at 3434 18th Street cost just under $600,000 to build, reps from the organization Mission Housing told Insider. They were unveiled this week in the city’s cramped Mission District as part of Mayor London Breed’s directive to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs, also known as granny flats) for seniors.
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative that San Francisco’s affordable housing development community utilizes its properties to their fullest and best potential to provide as many affordable housing units as possible,” said Sam Moss, the executive director of Mission Housing, in a statement.
Previously, the street-level garages were beneath apartments in the building.
In recent years, homeowners, developers, and cities have looked for ways to make more livable spaces on existing properties. Insider recently spoke to Rebecca Möller about her company Symbihom, which transforms Bay Area garages into apartments that homeowners can then rent out to tenants.
“My units have sold for $150,000 to $220,000,” she said. “My studio accessory dwelling unit is anywhere from 170 square feet to 400 square feet for a one-car garage or a small two-car garage. My one- or two-bedroom ADU can range anywhere from a 420-square-foot unit in a large two-car garage to a 1,200-square-foot unit in a three-car garage.”
According to The San Francisco Standard, the Mission Housing units raised eyebrows among architects and building professionals.
“They paid too much, and now they’re celebrating that they got something done,” Möller told the Standard. “This is an example of what could be done to immediately build housing in a community, but it can be done at a much more economical rate, quickly.”
Moss told the Standard the project used an all-union contractor crew and set aside funds to replace building components for the next 35 years: “It can be done cheaper, but that doesn’t mean it should be.”
“I’m not saying that isn’t a lot. And I’m also not trying to say that this is some scalable thing that’s going to solve the housing crisis,” Moss told the Standard: “The units came in slightly lower than brand-new construction. Things cost what they cost.”