For many people, rent in the Bay Area is unaffordable, especially if they are low-wage earners. In Silicon Valley, a new concept for affordable living is being tried out.
Residents can easily pay $6,000 to $8,000 for rent for a three-bedroom, two-bath house like some in Palo Alto. Some residents there are paying $800. While the kitchen and other spaces are shared, the 14 residents sleep in pods a bit larger than a twin bed.
“Our pods are actually eight feet tall, so it gives enough room for like bigger people and like also some wiggle room, so they’re not like the Japanese capsules. They’re a bit larger,” said Brownstone Shared Housing Co-Founder Christina Lennox.
The pods come with a temperature-controlled fan, lighting, a fold-down desk, and whatever personal touches they’d like to add. Christina, who designed the pods, says she can stay there all day, as some do.
She and co-founder James Stallworth wanted to help tackle the affordable housing crisis. They ran into objections when they tried to do their project in New York. There is no limit for renters in a single-family home in Palo Alto. They also found a cooperative landlord.
“We told them about our concept and the benefits of it and how it would help people, and the landlord was interested,” Stallworth said.
All of the residents are in their 20s and are just getting started or are working on internships.
Luis Alsonso from Peru loves access to the kitchen. For him, sleeping in a pod is fine.
“For me, I don’t need a big space. At night when I go to sleep, I need just one bed,” said resident Alonso.
The idea went from a concept to affordable housing for 20 at two sites in a year. Mostly savings and family financed the project.