Micro housing

Micro housing is one of the affordable residential type that one unit size is tiny, typically 150 to 250 ft2. Six or eight residential units share a kitchen and their rent is lower than the average so lately, there has been an increasing preference. And the rent price is $500 – $600 a month, which is half of a regular apartment.

However, there are several issues in this residential type.

First with a neighborhood aspect, micro housing densify the neighborhood. None of the neighborhood want to increase densification in there area. And the residents in the micro housing are low income residents, there existence does not welcoming by neighbors. Also, all most all of the micro housings does not includes parking areas. So there is a risk to make parking issue in the adjacent residents.

Second, with a legal aspect, there is no clear legal definition about micro housing. This have made micro-houses development cropped up within a loophole in the city building code. Seattle DPD counts number of kitchen, not a number of beds, as a housing units. Meanwhile, , another arm of city government — the Office of Housing — counts number of beds as a housing units when they grant affordable-housing tax exemptions. So developers have used a different count when they apply for a Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption (MFTE).[1]

Micro housing

In my country, Seoul, there are already lots of micro housings developed. The household size gradually decrease because of low birth and aging problem, government support to borrow 50% of hard cost micro housings which is regulated as “Semi-residential” uses in Korean building code. They clearly mentioned in Korean building code, so there is no argument to interpret code. Also, “Semi residential” uses are much similar with retail and office uses than residential uses, so there is less claim from the adjacent neighborhood.

To solve the micro housing issues I suggest two things relate with micro housing in Korea. First, changing the micro housing policy which makes confliction between DPD and Office of Housing. Second, give more incentive to the micro housings development in Mixed-uses.

[1] The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) : MFTE provides a tax exemption on the residential improvements on multifamily projects in exchange for setting aside 20% of the units for moderate-wage workers. Projects must be located in a residential targeted area and applications must be submitted prior to the issuance of a project’s first building permit.


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About asiawideweb

Junyong, Jamie, An MUP & MSRE Candidate | Class of 2015 College of Built Environments University of Washington mobile_US : (206) 249-3855 / S. Korea : (010) 9698-2022 email: asiawideweb@gmail.com / jya2@uw.edu

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