Micro-units
10:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Tiny Apartments Could Be Big Answer to Austin's Housing Crunch

Micro-units – apartments of 500 square feet or less – might be Austin's next big building trend.

As the city's population continues to climb, troubles have mounted with providing affordable housing. To address the issue, the Austin City Council is asking the city manager to study the feasibility of micro-unit projects.

"Micro-units will allow people to live closer to downtown at a more affordable cost," says council member Bill Spelman.

A micro-unit is the size of an average hotel room, significantly smaller than a typical studio or efficiency apartment. But the apartments would still include a stove and full bathroom, according to the resolution passed by the council.

The development of micro units is aimed at singles of all ages, giving them the opportunity to live in premium areas by accepting less space in return for lower rent. 

"It's a smart way to invest in affordable housing. Seattle is one of the pioneer cities of this concept of construction. They're becoming so popular that there's more and more investors interested in these developments," says Spelman. Read more about Seattle's efforts here.

Besides Seattle, micro-units are growing in popularity in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. In those cities they're frequently as small as 300 square feet, but usually have large common areas for socializing. 

The city manager is asked to report back to the council at the end of February on best practices for fostering development, and any zoning issues that would need to be addressed.