Housing in Brief: Do Tiny Houses Distract from Housing Solutions?

And in other housing news this week, researchers find a worrisome mortgage trend that's connected to climate change and critics say upscale development threatens an L.A. river restoration.

A row of tiny homes behind a conventional house in Seattle (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

Renter of Tiny House Is Skeptical

In a Fast Company piece titled “Why I hate living in my tiny house,” writer Adele Peters observes of the trendy small structures: “I wonder if they can sometimes distract from other, more systemic solutions that are necessary.” As Next City has reported, cities from Southern California to Minneapolis have looked to tiny homes to address homelessness and rising rents that are a cost burden for many. Even though Peters is frustrated by her 240-square-foot accessory dwelling unit in the Bay Area, she says, “I still live there — partly because rents in Oakland have surged more than 50 percent in less than a decade, and in a neighborhood where a typical one-bedroom now goes for more than $2,800, I can’t afford to move.”

Will L.A. River Flow to Gentrification?

Years of activism, public investment and planning transformed the Los Angeles River from a concrete channel to official “navigable river” status. Now, neighbors and nature lovers are concerned that a proposed housing development will “disrupt habitat restoration efforts, trigger gentrification and erode the area’s allure,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Proponents counter that such projects will support continued restoration work as well as provide much-needed housing supply in the city.

How Climate Change Affects Home Mortgages

Amid hot temps in an East Coast “fall” and “unprecedented” snow in Montana this week came findings that banks are selling U.S. mortgages off to the federal government that are deemed risky because homeowners devastated by, say, a hurricane would be more likely to default on a home loan. (The lenders are doing so through securitization, a word familiar to those who’ve studied the housing crisis that hit the world more than a decade ago.) The researchers looked at areas where billion-dollar natural disasters struck from 2004 to 2012 — but didn’t name the specific banks who took part. The New York Times reported that “when asked about the findings, representatives of JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, two of the country’s largest mortgage lenders, denied engaging in the practice described in the paper. Quicken Loans and Bank of America did not respond to questions.”

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

Like what you’re reading? Get a browser notification whenever we post a new story. You’re signed-up for browser notifications of new stories. No longer want to be notified? Unsubscribe.

Tags: affordable housinglos angelesreal estateclimate changeoaklandtiny house

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 1063 other sustainers such as:

  • Ann at $5/Month
  • Linda at $25/Year
  • Adrian at $18.00/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    20th Anniversary Solutions of the Year magazine

has donated ! Thank you 🎉