Inspiration + Research for Interim Sleep & Service Hubs

Interim Sleep and Service Hubs are a cost-effective, well-researched, and humane model to address homeless encampments in San Francisco that will measurably reduce the pain points of both unhoused residents, surrounding neighbors and local businesses, and City services.

Start by doing what's necessary. Then do what's possible. And suddenly you will be doing the impossible."              - Francis of Assis (namesake of San Francisco)

Start by doing what's necessary. Then do what's possible. And suddenly you will be doing the impossible."              - Francis of Assis (namesake of San Francisco)

San Francisco has the know-how to respond to a crisis with pragmatic and timely solutions. Case in point, 5,000 small wooden cottages (10x14 feet to 14x18 feet) were quickly built and housed over 16 San Francisco residents in the shelter crisis following the 1906 earthquake.

San Francisco has the know-how to respond to a crisis with pragmatic and timely solutions. Case in point, 5,000 small wooden cottages (10x14 feet to 14x18 feet) were quickly built and housed over 16 San Francisco residents in the shelter crisis following the 1906 earthquake.


This is what a city can do to accommodate interim sleep and service hubs: 

  • Change local ordinances
  • Grant temporary use permits
  • Issue consent decrees
  • Create new zoning land use categories
  • Identify and lease public land for temporary use

Loftus-Farren (2011) Tent Cities: An Interim Solution to Homelessness and Affordable Housing Shortages in the United States California Law Review


Seattle City Ordinance No. 124747 authorized “transitional encampments” for homeless persons as a permitted “interim” use on City-owned property, private property, and educational Major Institutions according to the standards in Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) Section 23.42.056. Section 23.42.056.A requires the Directors of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Human Services Department (HSD) to adopt a joint rule establishing requirements for community outreach, encampment operations standards, and coordination with the permit process for new transitional encampments on any selected site meeting the requirements of the regulation.


Dignity Village:  City-Sanctioned Organized Interim Shelter & Service Village on public land in Portland, Oregon Portland City Council enacted an Oregon State Statute in 2004: In Resolution No. 36200, the City Council designated a portion of Sunderland Yard as a Designated Campground under the terms of ORS 446.265. This State statute allows municipalities to designate up to two sites as campgrounds to be used for “transitional housing accommodations” for “persons who lack permanent shelter and cannot be placed in other low income housing” and may be operated by private persons or nonprofit organizations.

Dignity Village:  City-Sanctioned Organized Interim Shelter & Service Village on public land in Portland, Oregon

Portland City Council enacted an Oregon State Statute in 2004: In Resolution No. 36200, the City Council designated a portion of Sunderland Yard as a Designated Campground under the terms of ORS 446.265. This State statute allows municipalities to designate up to two sites as campgrounds to be used for “transitional housing accommodations” for “persons who lack permanent shelter and cannot be placed in other low income housing” and may be operated by private persons or nonprofit organizations.


Occupy Madison: Permitted Sleep and Service Hub on private land (church property) in Madision, Wisconsin City Zoning Approval: The Madison Common Council voted to amend the city's zoning code to allow tiny houses, like the single 96-square-foot trailer-mounted cottage Occupy Madison has constructed so far, to be set up on the property of churches and other non-profit organizations.

Occupy Madison: Permitted Sleep and Service Hub on private land (church property) in Madision, Wisconsin

City Zoning Approval: The Madison Common Council voted to amend the city's zoning code to allow tiny houses, like the single 96-square-foot trailer-mounted cottage Occupy Madison has constructed so far, to be set up on the property of churches and other non-profit organizations.


Camp Unity Eastside: Permitted Sleep and Service Hub on private land (church property) in Woodinville, WA State Ordinance: A 2010 Washington state ordinance allows for temporary encampments on church property and limits permit fees to the cost associated with review and approval. City Ordinance: A 2004 ordinance of the City of Woodinville reaffirmed the city manager’s authority to negotiate and execute an agreement for the location of a temporary homeless encampment on certain city-owned property, declaring an emergency, and allowing for immediate effect.

Camp Unity Eastside: Permitted Sleep and Service Hub on private land (church property) in Woodinville, WA

State Ordinance: A 2010 Washington state ordinance allows for temporary encampments on church property and limits permit fees to the cost associated with review and approval. City Ordinance: A 2004 ordinance of the City of Woodinville reaffirmed the city manager’s authority to negotiate and execute an agreement for the location of a temporary homeless encampment on certain city-owned property, declaring an emergency, and allowing for immediate effect.


Assembly Bill 2176:  Shelter crisis: emergency bridge housing communities (San Jose)

The law, authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, as Assembly Bill 2176 and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 27, goes into effect in January and sunsets in five years. It allows the city to temporarily suspend state building, safety and health codes for the purpose of building “unconventional” housing structures — everything from wood-framed sheds to tiny homes. The city will adopt its own regulations, the law says, based on some minimum standards.

“It was huge for the governor to sign this because it’s outside-the-box and no one else has done it,” Campos said. “Other big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles will be looking at what we do here. We had to do something because what we were doing wasn’t working.”


Rendering of an interim sleep and service village comprised of tiny structures from local builders/designers Greg Kloehn and Mike "Moshke" Osgood, SFHC collaborators. Rendering by Richard Tsai of Field of Vision.

Rendering of an interim sleep and service village comprised of tiny structures from local builders/designers Greg Kloehn and Mike "Moshke" Osgood, SFHC collaborators. Rendering by Richard Tsai of Field of Vision.


Box City, a self-organized community of unhoused residents living in small structures that they built themselves out of found materials.

Box City, a self-organized community of unhoused residents living in small structures that they built themselves out of found materials.


AN ORDINANCE relating to City responses to people who are homeless living on public property; setting standards and procedures for remedying unsafe conditions and protecting the rights and property of homeless individuals. Supporting documents:1. Attachment A to Central Staff Memo (9/28/16), 2. CB 118794 Bagshaw Substitute (10/14/16), 3. CB 118794 O'Brien Substitute (10/14/16), 4. Central Staff Memo (9/22/16), 5. Central Staff Memo (9/28/16), 6. Draft Definitions from the ACLU and Columbia Legal Services (9/22/16), 7. Draft Guiding Principles September 2017 (9/22/16), 8. Excerpts from USICH and Focus Strategies Reports (9/22/16), 9. Statement of Principles March 2016 (9/22/16), 10. Summary and Fiscal Note, 11.Central Staff Memo (10/14/16)

AN ORDINANCE relating to City responses to people who are homeless living on public property; setting standards and procedures for remedying unsafe conditions and protecting the rights and property of homeless individuals.

Supporting documents:1. Attachment A to Central Staff Memo (9/28/16), 2. CB 118794 Bagshaw Substitute (10/14/16), 3. CB 118794 O'Brien Substitute (10/14/16), 4. Central Staff Memo (9/22/16), 5. Central Staff Memo (9/28/16), 6. Draft Definitions from the ACLU and Columbia Legal Services (9/22/16), 7. Draft Guiding Principles September 2017 (9/22/16), 8. Excerpts from USICH and Focus Strategies Reports (9/22/16), 9. Statement of Principles March 2016 (9/22/16), 10. Summary and Fiscal Note, 11.Central Staff Memo (10/14/16)