In San Francisco, space-saving techniques are bringing in renters. Architects in Philadelphia have found a way to build a home for $100,000, and an Alabama design studio is conceptualizing $20,000 homes.
Architects at the Rural Studio at Auburn University have created three models for affordable housing, ready for small- and large-scale production. The one-bedroom homes would be built on-site “so that that money and jobs stay in the local economy,” says Rural Studio director Andrew Freear. The Urban Land Institute reports that in a more expensive market, San Francisco, developer Panoramic Interests has been successful attracting renters by saving space, "Its three-bedroom apartments with 600 square feet of space are more efficient, because they take up just 200 square feet of space for each bedroom."
Changes to design, construction, and zoning policies could increase the supply of affordably priced housing, said panelists at an event hosted by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS). Land is much less available for development than it was in the 1960s, and that increases what developers need to pay for a site to build. The cost of housing is also pushed higher by limits on the kind of homes that developers are allowed to build. Also, the construction techniques that builders use to create homes have not changed much in the last 100 years, which may also make the cost of housing higher than it needs to be.