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September 23, 2013

Micro-Apartments Hope to Ease Living Costs for Young City Residents

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In order to create affordable housing options for young people living by themselves, some big cities are loosening housing restrictions to allow for miniature “micro-apartments”.

Expensive cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., now offer smaller apartments only suitable for one person as an affordable alternative housing option for young people who may not need very much space.

“I think it’s good for cities in terms of being able to retain– young professionals, recent college graduates who might otherwise be priced out of the city,” said John Infranca, a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston who studies affordable housing and land policy. You know, that’ll add a certain, you know, dynamism to the city. Boston, for instance, is really pushing that front, that they want to retain their recent graduates who otherwise can’t afford to live there. And– and those graduates are gonna be important for the city’s– broader economy to grow.

Opponents say micro-apartments are largely aimed at young high-income people, and don’t address the needs of low- and middle-income workers who also need the housing. Some communities, particularly in Seattle, are also worried about the stability of neighborhoods in which young people come and go without creating roots.


Warm up questions
  1. How has technology transformed our need for space?
  2.  Why are big cities like New York or Tokyo very expensive to live in?
  3. What class (upper, middle, lower) do “yuppies” or “young professionals” belong to? What are some examples of jobs that they might have?
    • Definition of a yuppie- a young college-educated adult who has a job that pays a lot of money and who lives and works in or near a large city (source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yuppie)
Discussion questions
  1. What risks and benefits might a person experience living in a micro-apartment?
  2. What are the risks and benefits of creating micro-apartments to the local community?
  3. Why do you think the rate of living alone has increased steadily since the 1950’s?
  4. What other solutions could there be to create affordable housing in expensive population dense areas besides micro-apartments?
  5. Would you choose to live in a micro-apartment if it meant you could afford to live in a city like NYC, San Francisco, or Seattle?
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