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Do you want to live in a tiny box? I do, or at least I would, if it’s as cool as these weeHouses built by ALCHEMY architects in St. Paul, MN.

This is the solution to the affordable housing problem in San Diego. Why are we letting developers fill downtown and the metro area with high rises that most residents can’t afford — under the guise that some will feature affordable housing or the developers will fund a special account to build affordable housing that never seems to get built — when we can have developments like the weeCommunities proposed by ALCHEMY? They’re space and energy efficient, and they’re super modern and cool.

weeCommunities include 350 square foot to 490 square foot studios, 800 square foot -1200 square foot townhouses, one-story row houses and duplexes. The row houses and duplexes include private yards and remote garages set to one side so there are no cars or roads clogging up the neighborhood. Check out the floor plans.

You can also buy your own prefabricated weeHouse for $125 to $175 per square foot for a nominal 1,000 square foot house. ALCHEMY says its common-wall developments cost 10 percent to 20 percent less than the standalones.

Why isn’t Jerry Sanders and the whiz-bang City Council investigating options like this one? Why pay $500,000 for 1,000 square feet when you can pay less than $200,000?

Whenever politicians, developers and even reporters talk or write about affordable housing, they always just throw the phrase around as if everyone uses a common definition. What does the city mean when it refers to affordable housing? I found the answer on the website of the city of San Diego’s Affordable Housing Task Force under the heading “what is affordable?”

Using the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition, affordable housing means a family earning up to 80 percent of the area’s median income of $63,400 could rent an apartment for $1,500 or buy a home priced under $225,000. The state of California requires that 15 percent of housing developed in a redevelopment area must be affordable to persons earning up to 120 percent of the median income. Under this guideline, affordable housing would include apartments up to $1,700 per month and housing priced up to $240,000.

Looks like my weeCommunities fit the bill much better than any of the condos being developed downtown.

The small, environmentally friendly home has other leaders also, including the Sebastopol, Calif.-based Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and a new movement in using old shipping containers for multi-family housing. The first ever Container City was built in London in 2001.

CATHERINE MacRAE HOCKMUTH

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