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San Francisco OKs 220-square-foot homes

SAN FRANCISCO – Lawmakers on Tuesday approved what appear to be the nation’s tiniest apartments – 220 square feet, including the bathroom, kitchen and closet – in a pilot program aimed at creating more options in this prohibitively expensive housing market.

The city already allows for construction of 290-square-foot micro-units. But Supervisor Scott Wiener backed the reduced minimum size in hopes that the apartments would rent for $1,200 to $1,500 a month, a steal compared with San Francisco’s current average studio rents of $2,000.

“To confront San Francisco’s rising housing affordability crisis, we must be creative and flexible,” Wiener said in a statement after the 10-1 vote. “Allowing the construction of these units is one tool to alleviate the pressure that is making vacancies scarce and driving rental prices out of the reach of many who wish to live here.”

The push to reduce the minimum-allowable size was criticized by affordable housing and tenants’ rights advocates, who said the “shoe box apartments” would do nothing to ease the strain on families and would push the city further down the road as a playground for young singles.

After negotiations with Wiener, however, they agreed to back the proposal if it capped the number of new market-rate units at 375. The city will study those developments and determine whether to proceed with more construction.

Under the compromise, the city did not place a cap on the number of subsidized micro-units for low-income tenants or on those earmarked for students or seniors.


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