Affordable Housing Models

Affordable housing for the very low-income can be created through models that go beyond traditional rental design. Some of the most promising examples include:

  • Single room occupancies (SROs)

    Single households comprise the majority of the homeless population, and there is a growing trend toward individuals living alone. SROs, such as studio apartments, are an affordable way to meet this need, particularly in the urban core.

    SRO's with supportive services in NYC

  • Small houses and accessory dwelling units

    By expanding on the concept of ohana dwelling model, separate living areas built on single-family residential lots could be used to increase our affordable housing stock with minimal impact on the community and many benefits to homeowners.

    tiny home in Vancouver Meg Lea's backyard house the Weller Home by Tumbleweed tiny house company

    Click here to read about how one woman built her own tiny home for less than one year's worth of rent.

  • Well-designed ultra-low cost housing

    This model could include prefabricated homes, container housing, and those designed to minimize materials and construction costs, particularly through using locally sourced materials.

    container housing in the Netherlands

    Department of Hawaiian Homelands partners with Hawaii Community College to build affordable units as part of the students curriculum. Click here to read more about this collaboration.

  • Small spaces

    The growing “small house movement” and popularity of urban micro-units shows that this approach has become acceptable for households of all income levels and is accompanied by environmental benefits as well. Click here to see the results of the Making Room 2011 Design Showcase in New York City.


    Check out what Seattle is doing with "aPodments" by clicking here.

    microunit designs in NYC

    microunit designs in Portland

    Tokyo's first micro-apartments

    tokyo micro apartments tokyo micro apartment tokyo micro apartments tokyo micro apartment

    For more information on these Tokyo microunits, click here.

    For more examples of small houses, click here and here

  • Northeastern University architecture student has devised a plan for micro-units with a shared living space for every two units. Read more about this design here.

    Micro-living sweeping the nation.

  • Mixed-use spaces

    Mixed-use spaces can help subsidize management cots low-income rentals.

  • Adaptive reuse

    Adaptive reuse converts buildings such as schools or warehouses into housing.

    adaptive re-use in Queens

  • Improved planning and design at the development level, as well greater community involvement with the development of affordable housing units.

Click here to view more examples of completed and proposed designs for microunits.