Residents and Developers Clash Over Microhousing in Seattle

“Anyone who can scrape up enough money to live month-to-month can live there,” he said, worried that low-income interlopers would jeopardize his chances to sell his own house. “I don’t think most people want to live next to a boarding house with itinerant people living in it.”

This style of development is called microhousing, or in the case of this particular project, the developer, Calhoun Properties, has trademarked the name aPodments. Gossett and other neighbors said they should be banned.

We’ve been closely following the “micro apartment” developments occurring in New York, but they’re also happening in other cities across the country. The Stranger has a nice in-depth, 6,000-word story on the developers who are building affordable microhousing units in Seattle, and the residents who are fighting against it.

The idea that just about anyone—possibly criminal anyones—could rent these units in downtown Seattle is incorrect:

“We do background checks and credit checks on all of our customers,” explains Jim Potter, who is developing six microhousing buildings. I obtained tenant applications for other microhousing units that ask about applicants’ bankruptcy history, evictions, late rental payments, income sources, and bank references.

Rental agencies can get pretty serious about the renters they select—especially if the units are in high demand. In New York, here’s what I had to turn in when applying for my current apartment:

• Letter of employment from employer
• Two most recent pay stubs
• Tax return
• $25 for a credit check
• Letter from previous landlord
• Copy of identification

The reporter examines other concerns the residents would have too—that microhousing drives up the prices of studios and other rental properties in the area; that the units are fire hazards; that street parking will become a nightmare.

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