Low Income Cohousing {was Dorms for Grownups: A Solution for Lonely Millennials?"
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2016 14:40:38 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 1, 2016, at 3:06 PM, Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at] comcast.net> wrote:
> In the eldercare sub-market, retirement housing, assisted living and 
> congregate care have advanced in sophistication; the floor plan shown in the 
> Atlantic article might be dorm-like for the youthful, but would be understood 
> as a variant of congregate care if serving seniors.

This might be an option for low income housing. The problem I see with the 
floor plan is that there are too many walls creating even smaller spaces in a 
small space. The units vary in size but most are about 230 SF. Approx. 13' X 
18’ Out of this they have made a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and 
an area that could be a dining room or an office. And almost no storage.

What makes a small space work is an open floor plan. Then it can be adapted to 
a specific person’s needs and the place will be flooded with light. I’ve lived 
in 500 SF and now live in 825 SF. It’s more space than I need.  I knew I wanted 
800 SF because I work at home. I have tons of books and craft supplies. Most 
people don’t have that. I also didn’t want the 825 SF  divided up into small 
spaces. It wastes space. There is too much space used for circulation.

People who have the same size unit I have come in and think it is twice the 
size of theirs, just because it has light from front to back and a big open 
center. They have two bedrooms that divide the apartment in half. They seem 
very cramped. Some have two bathrooms.

Walls also cut off head space. I recently took out all the top cabinets in my 
kitchen. Now it feels like a room instead of a closet. All the extra space is 
at the top of the room and I rarely used them. They were to high.

In the plan in the Atlantic, if the bathroom and kitchen were just inside the 
door, as they are in the accessible units a the top, there would be a much 
larger space to be divided as desired. A Murphy bed or sleep sofa in the larger 

Can front doors open out? That would save space inside.

Since there is a kitchen almost as large as one of the units just outside the 
units, the kitchens could be smaller. A small fridge, the burners are already 2 
instead of 4 and a small sink 

Several sites on the web give average construction costs for a 2,000 SF home at 
$150 per SF. The costs of the whole floor have to be divided between the units. 
Total SF on this plan are hard to calculate. If you assume that the common 
space is equal to ½ the size of the units, this would be approx. $54,000. Of 
course cities are more expensive to build in and rural might be less. (I’m not 
a specialist on construction so the figures are probably off — but not by 
$100,000, which is where people start getting squeezed out.)

The smaller the space the lower the maintenance costs.

In Manhattan a developer built a building 8 floors tall, 12’ square. They sold 
out immediately. the elevator was on the outside of the building and each unit 
opened off it. He was asked how he thought of 12’ square apartments — he said 
that was the size of the lot.

As I’ve said before, the goal has to be to build a low income units — not a mix 
of large and small units. The more money people have the more they want to 
spend it. 

(Opinions and experience are those of the program, not the network.)

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.