A new cohousing startup is facing some scrutiny as it works toward creating affordable living space for the working class. Known as PadSplit, the company focuses on converting single-family homes into a series of rentable single rooms, thereby creating affordable shared living spaces for those who need it the most. This new approach to creating affordable living space has been questioned by some as being nothing more than a boardinghouse, but the developers and those who support the project say the development provides a genuine opportunity for low-income individuals to find an affordable place to live and maybe even set aside some money each month as they work to get ahead.
Taking a New Approach
While other shared living space startups such as Common and WeLive have targeted millennial professionals living within creative cities, PadSplit is a no-frills development project that focuses on providing the basics. Located near transit lines, the rooms will offer utilities, laundry facilities, cable and Wi-Fi to its residents. By sticking to the basics, the rooms will be priced at anywhere from $435 to $650 per month.
This doesn’t mean the company plans to cut corners on the housing. According to the company, the goal will be to create housing that is affordable, safe and accountable. As such, each of the units developed by the company so far has its own smoke detector. Each room is also decorated with new artwork and furniture, while every applicant must pass a criminal background check before being moved into the space.
Targeting a New Demographic
Currently, shared housing options are available for specific low-income demographics, namely students and the elderly. PadSplit would focus on low-income renters earning roughly $25,000 per year who do not fit into either of these two categories. In this way, those who are working at a minimum wage job or who have a low fixed income will still be able to afford a place to rent.
Thanks to the low cost of rent in these units, residents are also able to save money and get ahead. For many residents, living in one of these units may serve as a stepping stone toward saving the money necessary to put a security deposit down on a larger apartment or a down payment on a house.
Addressing Legal Issues
Taking a single-family home and converting it into a shared living space does require addressing certain legal issues. In Atlanta, for example, housing codes and regulations will require the company to serve as the “master tenant” entity with the residents paying “fees” instead of rent to occupy the space. Despite these complications, Enterprise Community Partners is backing the model and is working toward making permanent zoning recommendations that will help to make this type of housing legal in other jurisdictions.
While the startup company is currently focused on creating affordable living space in the Atlanta area, the company is looking to expand in the future. This approach may also be one that could help to address the housing issues in Boston, where rising rent and housing costs are making it difficult for residents to find affordable places to live.