Pond is placing the first of hopefully 2 models on display in one of the city’s trendiest locales – The Wiedemann Hill neighborhood of Newport, on a vacant infill lot partially overlooking the Cincinnati skyline.
“Our goal is to help Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky discover tools to start replacing the affordable housing we’re losing to rentals,” Pond said. “You could put four or five of these on a normal size lot.”
Tiny homes have been popularized on shows like HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters where creative design elements are used to get the most out of the space.
Cincinnati’s development boom has caused new home prices to nearly double in the past six years, when the average new home price jumped from $140,000 to $260,000.
Meanwhile, low-income residents have been pushed farther from the city’s core in search of a fast-dwindling supply of affordable housing.
Luxury tiny homes aren’t a solution to the affordable housing crisis for extremely low-income residents, but they could deliver more options in the workforce housing market.
At about $150,000 each, they could also make home ownership a reality for many people who can’t afford new construction or are stuck renting now, Pond said.
Cutting edge design elements are used to maximize the minimal spaces. Broad expanses of glass, lofty vaulted ceilings, and multiple outdoor spaces are critical components of the most popular tiny houses. Architectural series cabinets and doors, faux wood floors, stainless steel appliances, and quartz or granite countertops all combine for a luxurious finish.
RealLife knows the nation’s growing number of single-person households, also fueled by a rising senior population, is encouraging developers to invest in tinier apartments and houses.
“Millennials particularly are very serious about reducing their carbon footprint and they don’t really care about big houses,” Pond said. “The city has a lot of small lots where you could put these.”
Even smaller micro-apartments less than 400 square feet are popular in dense cities like New York, San Francisco, Austin, and Chicago. High-priced housing markets are the epicenter of this trend. Developers say higher land and construction costs in popular areas prevents them from building affordable housing. “A lot of people are coming from big, hectic cities and like the idea of living in a smaller community,” Pond said.
Like many midsized cities, Cincinnati’s rising housing costs have displaced tens of thousands of low-income residents from the downtown core in recent years, according to Metro reports. There’s unbelievable demand for affordable housing. Cincinnati Affordable Housing has about 400 people on their waiting list and they don’t have that much turnover. To help quell the problem, RealLife is working on plans to bring micro-home communities to Cincinnati/NKY on a large scale.