- The Grand Rapids, MI, planning commission — which sees small apartments as a way to alleviate the city's affordable housing shortage — is adding the term "micro-unit" to its zoning ordinances and allowing developers to provide less vehicle parking than usually required in exchange for building them. Developers, however, must provide two bicycle parking spaces per unit.
- Micro-units, the planning commission’s solution for people who make too much money to qualify for subsidized rent yet not enough to afford new, market-rate apartment, must be 475 square feet or smaller and be incorporated into a mixed-use commercial building, according to MLive.
Developers in Grand Rapids are already seeing high demand for the small apartments, in some cases advertised as "artist lofts" by developers. Max Benedict of Third Coast Development told MLive that seeing the response for the company's two available micro-units in downtown Grand Rapids was like "striking oil."
Providing developer incentives to build micro-units is "a market-based approach to get at affordable housing because if you're paying by square-footage, the smaller the unit the less you're going to pay," Suzanne Schulz, city planning director, told MLive.
"In an urban context,” she said, “your social life is outside your unit," she said. "(Your home) is a place to rest your head and maybe make a bowl of cereal."
Micro-homes, be it small apartments or tiny houses, are becoming the go-to affordable housing solution in many cities. Portland, OR, and Hawaii have both seen micro-apartment developments this year, and the tiny house movement is on the rise with lawmakers in Missouri, New Jersey and Washington, DC considering loosening regulations for, and sometimes encouraging the construction of, the smaller living spaces.