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Billionaire to build micro-apartments for the homeless

John Sobrato, a brick masonry developer and billionaire in Santa Clara, California, unveiled a proposal to build 200 micro apartments for homeless and low-income renters, according to an article by Patrick Clark for Bloomberg.

With his previous experience and expertise building apartments, Sobrato will lease a 2.5-acre plot of city-owned land just three miles from the San Francisco 49ers football stadium, according to the article. His units will be 160 and 240 square feet, and will contain a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower, repurposed from shipping roll off construction containers. He will use hydrovac services to dig all necessary trenches for the construction.

From the article:

The history of the project dates back to 2005, when the city acquired the empty lot with an eye to building affordable housing. Funding for that project fell through, and the property sat vacant. In October, the Sobrato wrote a letter to Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor laying out the novel proposal.

Under the plan, the developer asked for a 57-year lease at the cost of $1 a year. In return, the Sobrato Organization, based in Cupertino, would build and own the luxury apartments, then lease them back to Santa Clara County, which would hire property management and homeless service providers. The project, called Innovation Place, could open as soon as 2018, with half the units rented to homeless and half offered to renters earning between 50 and 80 percent of the area’s median income.

However, not everyone is happy about the new project. This anonymous petition gathered 198 signatures so far of those who oppose the project.

Whatever the outcome, the city is clearly in need of more affordable housing, as was portrayed by the full 17 ballot measures on affordable housing during the most recent elections.

But small living spaces aren’t just for the homeless or low-income population. In fact, tiny homes have become quite the trend in the U.S. and could help alleviate the housing shortage in hot markets like the Bay Area.

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