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The Downsides of Tiny House Living

Advocates argue the array of small dwelling options provide much-needed affordable housing. But, living in these units, many of which are extremely small, isn't the alternative many people would choose.
October 7, 2019, 1pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Tammy Strobel

Adele Peters lives in a 240-square-foot accessory dwelling unit in Oakland, California. She says she does it not because she really wants to but because housing costs are off the charts and reasonably priced apartments are hard to come by. Her ADU is a very tight squeeze, one that that might work for a short-term stay or for someone who does not spend a great deal of time at home.

"But for anyone not making a tech industry salary, the main problem with living in a tiny house is feeling like there isn’t another option: The tiniest apartment might be cheap, but there’s little available at a larger size that’s still affordable. Like friends who’ve lived in the same rent-controlled apartment for several years, I feel like I have nowhere to move," notes Peters.

Peters does not dismiss the role tiny houses and ADUs can play is easing the state’s housing crisis, but she says the reality is that they can be hard to live in and they can only fix one part of a much larger problem. "We need more solutions, including different housing tech that can lower construction costs and salaries that are in line with the cost of living, and tiny houses, while cute, can’t fix those issues alone."

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Published on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in Fast Company
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