A 160-unit building that was purchased by the City of San Francisco in part thanks to the state’s Homekey program, the former Panoramic development at 1321 Mission Street in SoMa, is reopening as supportive housing for the formerly homeless.
The Panoramic was born in the middle of the last decade as a market-rate, micro-housing development at 9th & Mission from Berkeley-based developer Patrick Kennedy. It was part of a trend in these micro-unit developments, featuring average unit sizes of 354 square feet, and with even tinier studios featuring Murphy beds, with shared kitchens. The building was initially leased out primarily as student housing by the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, but the market for these units clearly had fallen even before the pandemic began.
As Hoodline reported last September, the city was already using part of the Panoramic for supportive housing, prior to purchasing the building outright. The purchase went through last fall, as part of a group of buildings identified by the Board of Supervisors and the mayor as candidates for supportive housing. It was paid for with Homekey funds and with Prop C “homeless tax” revenue being collected by the city.
The Panoramic, because it was built with some of the larger arrangements with rooms around communal kitchens, is especially well suited to serve homeless families.
“We have really little opportunity to get these kinds of buildings where we have multiple bedrooms where we can serve families,” said Coalition on Homelessness executive director Jennifer Friedenbach during a public meeting last year. “We have thousands of children in San Francisco that are experiencing homelessness, but we have very few large units. Three bedrooms. It makes a huge difference for large families, [there are] very few options for them.”
Now, as Bay City News reports, the building is officially being reopened as permanent supportive housing for families and formerly homeless individuals.
The mayor’s office announced that the nonprofit Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH) won the bid to operate the building, which it will do alongside Compass Family Services and UCSF Citywide Case Management. DISH, which was founded in 2006, also provides housing to 570 very-low income, formerly homeless individuals across multiple other properties.
Mayor London Breed touted the conversion of the Panoramic as part of her Homelessness Recovery Plan, which she says includes “the largest expansion of permanent supported housing in 20 years.” Breed’s office says that 1,490 new units of supportive housing have been added to a city stock of around 9,000 and counting since the mayor’s initiative began, and over 1,000 remain in the pipeline.
As a recent Chronicle investigation showed, many of those ~9,000 units exist in rundown SROs across the Tenderloin and SoMa where conditions are often subpar. Experts quoted in that piece discussed how a more ideal arrangement than having the city lease out whole buildings — where landlords are responsible for maintenance and repairs — is to have the city itself become the landlord. And newer buildings like the Panoramic, which require less upkeep, are the ideal.
On Monday, the latest data from February’s point-in-time homeless census showed that San Francisco’s homeless population had decreased slightly — 3.5% — over the last three years, and a greater percentage those experiencing homelessness in the city are finding shelter.
Between 2019 and 2021, the city increased the number of shelter beds available from 3,493 to 5,080, and on any given night, the city currently provides housing or shelter to over 14,000 individuals. A significant percentage of the city’s annual budget for addressing homelessness goes toward the leasing, operation, and maintenance of supportive-housing units.