Mayor Bloomberg’s contest to develop micro-units (i.e., shoe boxes) for young sustainable-minded singles sounds smart in theory, but housing activists say it may be a bad idea. In an interesting post on Shareable, Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee in San Francisco points out, “there’s a slippery slope when it comes to habitability and quality-of-life issues,” particularly for low-income families.
Bloomberg is developing the mini-studios with the 1 per cent in mind, she says. For a young professional focused on their career goals, scoring a cute mini-studio for less sounds ideal. But a low-income family that struggles to make ends meet will find it even harder to live in comfort because these units won’t suit their needs.
The micro units come with a bathroom, kitchen, sleeping and dining area, but at just 275 to 300 square feet—”larger than a jail cell, smaller than a closet,” reported the New York Daily News—they’re much too small for a family.
Said Shortt: “I have the ability to make the trade-off between lower rent or a spacious apartment. But if it becomes a basic overall lowering of standards for the market as a whole, then what we will start to see is units marketed to other income brackets that aren’t necessarily fit for people to be forced to live in.”
The other issue pertains to price. The units are reported to cost $2,000 a month or less, but the direction of rental prices for studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms is going nowhere but up, up, up in New York City. People could very well be squeezed out if developers slap a high price tag on these eco-chic apartments later on.
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