In the United States, poor housing is a major problem, particularly in California. A start-up called Brownstone Shared Housing offers an alternative to particularly expensive traditional housing: tiny cabins called “pods”.
Nearly a third of the nation’s homeless people are estimated to live in California. In San Francisco, there are 38,000 people sleeping on the streets every day. These are not only homeless people without resources, but also poor workers who cannot afford to pay rent. They sometimes live in their car or in a camper van.
For 15% of Californians, housing represents half of their income. The dream of a home for younger generations seems more difficult to achieve every day. The Zillow site, which specializes in real estate, estimates the median rent for a studio in San Francisco at $2,200. At these prices, many residents are considering leaving the state for more affordable areas. Brownstone Shared Housing pods could help solve part of the problem with rents between $500 and $900.
>> Poor housing: will Los Angeles hotels have to make their empty rooms available to the homeless?
A shared accommodation spirit and warm decor
So Brownstone Shared Housing finds houses and furnishes them with its pods 1.2 meters high and just over 1 meter wide. In addition to a mattress, you will find in the pod something to charge your phone or computer, something to adjust the temperature, light and curtains to protect your privacy. According to the startup’s website, there is 40% more space than with a classic bunk bed. Each resident has their own closet, they share the house with around fifteen other tenants, with access to a kitchen, a living room and an office.
Brownstone Shared Housing launched its pods in San Francisco, a little further south in Palo Alto in Silicon Valley as well as Bakersfield in the agricultural heartland of California. We have the right to find that the concept looks a lot like a youth hostel, especially since many of the current residents are young people working in the Tech sector, but there is no reception, no deposit and the minimum length of stay is 30 nights. And the creators of the start-up, a couple, insist on the warm wood chosen for the decoration which would be ideal for relaxing.
Criticisms and construction standards
The concept does not appeal to everyone. The Futurism website talks about an extremely expensive prison cell. A user says he has already lived like this but on a warship. It’s not a real home, he adds. The pods have, unsurprisingly, attracted the attention of some media and therefore, in the wake of the authorities. The city of San Francisco, for example, wonders whether all the appropriate permits have been obtained. A significant number of breaches of construction standards have been reported at the Palo Alto site, such as the installation of electrical cables.
The creators promised to take care of any necessary changes, while suggesting, as is often the case in Tech, that the current rules were perhaps too restrictive. They believe in their idea and state on their site that their “private beds” will change the world.