A 50-member team from the San Francisco's SPUR organization went to the Big Apple to see what San Francisco and the Bay Area could learn from the country's largest city. Like San Francisco, singles make up a huge share of the population - about a third. (It's even higher in S.F. @ 38%). Sarah Watson, Deputy Director of the Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC) which authored the Making Room initiative in New York City, asks, "Why aren’t we designing housing for that demographic?"
One reason it is difficult for policy makers, and the market, to digest these astounding numbers is our confused definition of household. Since the 1950 census, “household” has been synonymous with “family.” Data splits households into family and nonfamily categories, relegating single people and their housing need to an oddity.
This explains why housing is usually categorized as either single-family homes or multi-family buildings. However, the demographic composition of single-person households may not be what some think it to be.
(I)n New York City, only 19 percent of single-person households are under 35 years old. Twenty percent are 35–55 years old and just over 50 percent are over 55.
Watson also points to the numerous "repercussions of failing to respond to single people’s need for appropriate housing", such as singles forced to live "in shared arrangements in housing that is not designed for it."