The micro-housing trend is taking off in cities with droves of people moving back to the urban environment. Many cities, like Seattle, New York City, and Boston, have struggled with policies concerning the regulation of these small living spaces, bringing the question of how much space people really need to live in an equitable, safe environment back to light. Even with a few bumps along the way, micro housing has been embraced with open arms for many young professionals… but what about families?
The problem not many designers, planners, and urban dwellers have missed is the growing household inhabiting micro housing. It is a common statistic now that families are not as large as they were a decade or more ago; many young couples are waiting longer to have children and not having as many children. Therefore, micro housing is great for young professionals who need less space. However, the current trend promotes growing families to the suburbs, due to many factors including affordability and space. Is there a way to build and design units for more than a one to three person household?
A great example of this trend can be seen in Seattle today, specifically the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Many buildings built in the early 20th century were ‘bachelor’ and one-bedroom units, some of which still stand today. This might have been due to the original use of Capitol Hill for industry, specifically auto manufacturing; industry workers could have been majorly single person households within a close proximity to their work place. However, when these workers got married, started families, and maintained a growing net worth, they were pushed to the suburbs to obtain larger units. If micro housing, and housing in general, doesn’t account for growing households, suburban ‘flight’ will once again spur sprawl and unsustainable decisions.
I would urge developers, specifically those of micro housing units, to look into smaller units for families, not just young professionals.