The group behind Stronghold’s tiny-house community calls itself Boneyard Studios. “As property values and rents rise across the city, we want to showcase this potential option for affordable housing,” the group writes on its Web site. “We decided to live the questions: Can we build and showcase a few tiny homes on wheels in a DC urban alley lot? … Not in the woods, but in a true community, connected to a neighborhood? Yes, we think. Watch out left coast, the DC adventure begins.”
There’s one problem: The city’s zoning laws don’t allow residential dwellings on alley lots unless they are a minimum of 30 feet wide, or roughly the width of a city street. D.C. is currently discussing lifting the 30-foot restriction. So, as Boneyard Studios continues to advocate more progressive zoning laws, it is using the property to showcase what could be…
Although the diminutive homes are made of high-quality materials, they are priced for a flagging economy. They sell for $20,000 to $50,000, less than the down payment on a two-bedroom condo in a trendy D.C. neighborhood…
Despite the fact that tiny houses are, well, tiny, affordable-housing advocates are researching the possibility that attractive micro homes could one day complement or replace stigmatized trailer parks and low-income housing, especially in places such as the District, where they could be built in unused vacant spaces such as alleys.
This sounds like an interesting project. Still, these tiny houses could face a number of issues before being approved as affordable housing. Besides their size, how many people can fit in each tiny house, and how long each house might last, how many property owners would want to live next to these tiny houses? Even if these houses don’t have the stigma of trailer parks, residents and neighborhoods tend to worry about property values. Simply having smaller and cheaper houses nearby might lower other housing prices.
Additionally, how might these tiny houses be grouped or placed – would they be in rows, scattered in an open space or bigger lot, or on individual lots? Would a concentration of tiny houses fit under the same residential zoning categories as single-family homes or multi-family housing because of a greater density?
I imagine the neighbors will ask some of these questions and want good answers. Interestingly, the article does not cite any neighbors to the Stronghold colony of tiny houses.