Truly Affordable Housing
Too many Americans pay more than the national standard of 30% of gross income on housing costs: including rent or mortgage, maintenance and utilities. One out of 11 households are cost-burdened with housing costs that are 50% or more of their income (Source: Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University). This ratio may be higher because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing that costs no more than 30% of households’ income allows residents to reallocate funds toward other necessities, such as child care, education, healthcare, clothing, and food. Reducing housing costs increases disposable income, which raises spending power and strengthens the economy.
Our goal is to create truly affordable homes that do not rely on government subsidies. To do this, we plan to:
- Build small
- Use donated and second-hand materials, and
- Use the sweat equity of volunteers and prospective residents
For truly affordable homes, we also need alternative construction methods. Cob construction and 3-D printing are a few of the methods we are researching. We are also considering combustibility and longevity. Houses built primarily with wood do not belong in wildfire zones. And structures should be low-maintenance and easy to repair.
In 2018, the planning department of Sonoma County in Northern California enacted a provision called the Cottage Housing Development provision to allow construction of multiple small units on a single residential lot. This provision allows tiny houses to be built on foundations, which presents an opportunity to create housing at a relatively low cost.
In Sonoma County, known for its pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel grapes, there is a 10-year waiting list for affordable homes. This waiting list is worsened with every wildfire that destroys homes.
We are aiming to construct at least 3 houses on a single residential lot in Sonoma County beginning in 2021. As we gain experience with alternative construction materials, we hope to come up with a replicable model that others can also use to construct their own homes.
In a worst-case scenario, we may build using conventional construction, the cost of which will still be too high for a household earning minimum wage even for a 600 sq. ft. cottage.
Whichever way we build, we need donations to help us offset the cost so we can offer homes to households earning minimum wage. Donations may be made on our Kindest page.
If we are unable to build cottage houses, we can build accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which are apartments within or on the lot of a residence. A single-family house typical may have one ADU. If we go this route, we hope to find a low-income homeowner willing and in need of a rentable unit so that we can help two households with one build.
We estimate that we can build an ADU inside an existing structure with $25,000.
Every dollar counts!
We are 100% volunteers. Every dollar we receive will go toward creating housing.