The case for micro-apartment housing in growing urban centers

by Zachary Shore

Institution: MIT
Department: Center for Real Estate. Program in Real Estate Development
Year: 2014
Keywords: Center for Real Estate. Program in Real Estate Development.
Record ID: 2042912
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/87610


Taking an analytical approach, this thesis will address how the unmet housing need of urban single-person households can be rectified by the introduction of micro-apartments. The existing housing stock has been built largely based on the needs of a historically stable demand for family housing. By 2025, the number of single households will equal the number of households containing families with children. Given the remarkable increase in single-person households over the past few decades, a significant gap has formed in the availability of properly priced housing to meet the needs of people who would prefer to live alone. This affordability gap is an opportunity for cities to take strain off of family housing, stimulate the economy, and create innovative housing types that satisfy the needs of their fastest growing demographic. With land and labor costs at an all-time high, apartments with less square footage-micro-apartments- are a viable solution to filling the supply gap for single-person households. This thesis first analyzes this mismatch between supply and demand; introduces micro-apartments as a logical approach to ease the strain on housing; evaluates barriers and alternative theories that delay the implementation of this logical solution; and finally, makes recommendations for planners and policymakers to successfully add micro-apartments to their menu of housing options. The growth in single-person households with various levels of income indicates a significant demand for small units of modest means. Micro-apartments offer the opportunity to live alone to a variety of people, including new arrivals to cities, young professionals, and people at transitional stages in life such as a recent divorcée or a young couple. By offering housing to these segments of demand, micro-apartments will implicitly lessen the strain of existing housing stock intended for families.