In my scheme, someone straight off the street, with no money or resources to speak of, would be provided with a totally subsidized 8x10 room, with bathrooms down the hall. Those with at least $600 for monthly rent could get a studio. Couples with at least $600 each for rent would qualify for bigger studios or a small one-bedroom apartment. All these units would be in the same building, as an incentive for individuals to aspire for something better, something that is within reach, and with help available (e.g. completing benefit paperwork, arranging monthly rent transfers).
So how much would this scheme cost? First, how much rental income would be generated and how much would the rental subsidies be. The following 96-unit residential community will serve as an exemplar of the concept:
Now for the cost of developing and managing this supportive housing community. Note that these affordable housing communities would be multi-story buildings with pre-fab modular residential units built mostly off-site, at great savings*.
Bottom line: this is doable. Rental income covers the developer’s costs and profit and the ongoing building management and rental subsidy cost per resident is just $1103 a month. A few years ago, the average cost of supportive housing in San Francisco was $17,353 a year per person. Given Bay Area inflation rates, let’s say it’s $24,000 now, or $2000 a month. The above scheme is a lot cheaper. Now if only local politics would align with my vision.
* The $250,000 per unit is much less than the current per-unit cost of residential construction in the SF Bay Area, but current costs are partly a reflection of on-site construction, including the cost of delays associated with on-site construction. These units are also very small and simple (mostly single-room rectangles, designed to be easily transported by truck), which further reduces the per-unit cost.