Many cities are turning to micro-housing, including Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, and Livermore. Typically, these developments are prefabricated and feature shared toilets and kitchens, with all buildings meeting state construction and fire standards. Residents are usually selected by partner organizations working to help low-income and homeless people.
Walnut Creek works with HomeAid of Northern California, Firm Foundation Community (FFCH) and Hope Solutions (formerly Contra Costa Interfaith Housing).
The Walnut Creek concept would include homes ranging from 174 to 225 square feet of living space, on properties owned by faith-based establishments – typically in parking lots. The houses would be installed over six to eight weeks, assembled on site with leases of 10 to 15 years.
“Each unit would be attached to a foundation and provide permanent housing enriched with services to homeless people and small families (one to two people per unit),” the report said. Monthly rents would not exceed affordable rents for households earning up to 50% of the region’s median income.
City zoning laws currently do not cover these dwellings and should be changed (there are designations for low-income emergency and transitional housing), but micro-housing is not considered short-term) . The city would likely create a new land designation or propose a new type of special use permit.
The staff report says that if all goes according to plan, the project could formally apply for development this fall.