Tiny homes may give big boost to affordable housing
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A bunk squeezed between a window and the ceiling serves as the guest bedroom, and the work desk is jammed between the washer-dryer combo and refrigerator.
The 450-square-foot “micro-home” isn’t large enough for a family. But one affordable housing developer sees big potential here for the little houses.
Eddie Latimer, CEO of nonprofit Affordable Housing Resources, is developing a “micro-village” of 13 small modular houses just north of downtown. They will rent for about $1,000 a month, far less than the median studio apartment price of $1,545 a month in downtown Nashville.
“Our goal is to help Nashville discover tools to start replacing the affordable housing we’re losing,” Latimer said.
Tiny homes are popping up in dense cities across the country as young professional singles prioritize living in hip, walkable communities over spacious accommodations, according to nonprofit research firm Urban Land Institute.
And smaller micro-apartments, some with less than 400 square feet, are popular in places like New York, San Francisco, Austin and Chicago.
The teeny homes have been popularized on shows like HGTV’s “Tiny House Hunters,” where creative design elements are used to get the most out of the space.
Nashville’s development boom has caused home prices to nearly double in the past six years, with the average cost jumping from $140,000 to $260,000. Meanwhile, low-income residents have been pushed farther from the city’s core in search of a fast-dwindling supply of affordable housing.
French doors, granite counter tops
Luxury micro-homes aren’t a solution to the affordable housing crisis for very low-income residents, but they could deliver more options in the work- force housing market.
At $130,000 each, they could also make home ownership a reality for many people who can’t afford one now, Latimer said.
Sometimes called granny flats or mother-in-law suites, they can fit in backyards as guest houses.
Souped-up design elements are used to maximize the minimal spaces. There are plenty of tall windows.
French doors, hardwood floors, stainless-steel appliances and granite counter tops bring a luxurious finish.
Some models have exposed wooden ceiling beams, porches and Poplar bark siding.
The nation’s growing number of single-person households, also fueled by a rising senior population, is encouraging developers to invest in tinier apartments and houses.
“Millennials are very serious about reducing their carbon footprint and they don’t really care about big houses,” Latimer said.
Eddie Latimer, CEO of Affordable Housing Resources, a nonprofit group, is developing a “micro-village” of 450-square-foot tiny houses near downtown Nashville.
French doors, hardwood floors, stainless-steel appliances and granite counter tops bring a luxurious finish. Some models have exposed wooden ceiling beams, porches and Poplar bark siding.