Pod Living Gets a Remodel for the Housing Shortage
The city of Seattle is currently experiencing a boom in two areas: An influx of new residents paying upwards of 50% above market value for the few homes available, and homeless people. It's a crazy dichotomy to see, especially in a city that bills itself as socialist. You have rich people moving there from all over the world, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more than asking price for housing. Then you have thousands of more homeless people every year. A startup company in Seattle has recently said they want to help solve the homelessness crisis by building "City Pods", which are standalone pod houses that feature basic amenities for homeless people.
There's no date set yet when these houses might be complete, or how many there will end up being. Seattle has an estimated homeless population of around 5,500 to 10,000, so there would need to be an awful lot of City Pods to house them all. It's highly doubtful that over 100 would be built, but the startup is still in the conceptualization phase and is working with the city on plans for where to put the houses.
Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen housing pods. A few different cities and companies have tried to create these pods before. We don't hear much about them these days; or at least what's left of the pods after the residents got through with them.
The Facts About the Housing Pods
These pods are always pitched as some great innovation to help the homeless, or to help poorer people find affordable housing. We've seen them pop up in California all over the place, as well as places like New York. Though every single time these pods become available, what usually happens is that middle-class twenty-somethings out of college move into them. The developers decide that charging these young people $1,200 per month is more lucrative than offering them to the homeless, and the young people end up thinking it's cool and hip and eco-friendly to live in such accommodations. They do it as some sort of trend that they can tweet about on social media, and the initial target audience never even gets to see these pods, much less live in them. This seems to be the case every single time the pods show up.
The very people who preach about Democratic Socialism and saving the homeless show up with credit cards and their bags packed, acting like it's some adventure for them to live in pod housing that, in their minds, strikes them as "communal" since the quarters are so close. They pay a lot of money every month to pretend that they're living in some communist compound, and by the time they get tired of the fantasy, they've ruined the pods with graffiti and trash and other filth. The owners have made enough money that they just move on and don't even bother fixing things up.
Will Seattle's pods be any different? Will they actually go to homeless people and those who cannot afford conventional housing? In all likelihood, probably not, though that is just speculation based on previous attempts at pod housing. We can hope that these pods will finally be used for what they were intended, but the one thing working against that is the fact that Seattle's left-wing young population isn't that different at all from San Francisco's young left-wing population. There's no real reason to believe that things will be any different this time around. Though one can hope.
What should happen is that the government should make this a requirement when allowing these companies to get zoning rights to build. Government should step right in there and stipulate that the housing must go to homeless people or be rented as low-income housing to those in need. The city could even pitch in and offer some tax credits to entice more companies to do things like this. The fact is, however, people in Seattle have learned to ignore the homeless just like they ignore the rain at this point, so the government will likely never step in to partner with these companies for the good of homeless people.
It would be a great thing if these pods went to the homeless population to get them off the streets. We will all be hoping that they do, though few will be betting money on it.