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NYC launches pilot for affordable co-living developments

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The city will offer funds for developers to build co-living projects on private land

A rendering of Common’s co-living development in Boerum Hill
Courtesy Common

New York City’s co-living craze is set to spillover into new affordable housing developments across the city. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has launched a pilot program that will encourage the development of affordable co-living projects with the help of city funds. The New York Times first reported on the launch of the program that’s titled ShareNYC.

The program will seek proposals for private development sites, and particularly favor those that offer units for very low-income New Yorkers. Most of the co-living units will have bedrooms that range in size from 150 to 400 square feet, both private and shared bathrooms, and a shared living room and kitchen. The city will also entertain proposals that have a mix of affordable and market-rate units.

While co-living developments are still generally cheaper that standard market-rate apartments, the prices tend to veer on the luxury market side. Take for instance Common’s Havemeyer development in Williamsburg, where rents start at $2,050/month for a room. Common however points to the fact that the rent is usually inclusive of many utilities like Wi-Fi and a cleaning service and hence more value for money.

And co-living’s popularity in NYC is clearly on the rise. London-based firm, the Collective, recently announced plans for a 500-unit co-living development in the Broadway Triangle area, which makes it the largest such development in the city. Thirty percent of the units there will also be affordable.

The city’s pilot program includes a Request for Information (RFI) and/or Expressions of Interest (RFEI) where developers will be asked to outline how they plan to design, build, and manage these co-living spaces. The city has set a deadline of March 14, 2019 for the proposals, and is hosting a conference on November 30 this year for applicants to get more information on the pilot program. The new apartments will be part of the city’s Affordable Housing 2.0 agenda to create and preserve 300,000 affordable homes in the city by 2026.

“ShareNYC is a promising and innovative initiative for expanding the City’s affordable housing options,” said Jessica Yager, the executive director of the NYU Furman Center, in a statement. “Our research suggests that this approach can provide high-quality, low-cost housing to help meet the needs of the quarter-million single New Yorkers spending over half their income on rent.”