CHPC’s new guide to shared housing identifies core themes that make shared housing work as a long-term, high-quality housing option for single adults. Drawing on interviews with shared housing entrepreneurs from around the world – as well as veteran providers of supportive housing and dormitories here in NYC – the guide lays out best practices for the design and operation of shared housing.

In recent years, cities across the U.S. have seen the reemergence of shared housing, a housing typology which was largely regulated out of existence in many U.S. cities beginning in the late 1950’s. At this time, shared housing had become stigmatized and associated with poor living conditions. Cities enacted policies to prevent shared housing from being developed and to promote the production of housing designed for nuclear families: these policy decisions are reflected in much of our housing stock today.

There is a mismatch between the population of New York City and its housing stock, which has led to growing unmet need for housing options suitable and affordable for single adults.

Nearly one third of the city’s households are single people living alone. The number of the city’s single adults is growing, and rising land values and rents have limited their housing options. As a result, many are living in informal shared arrangements, which can be crowded and unstable. Of NYC’s single (unmarried) adults (age 21+) today, 23 percent are low-income (making $58,481 or less) and living with roommates or other relatives.

These trends demonstrate the demand for shared housing in NYC, which is mirrored in cities across the world. Armed with new digital technologies and helped by the increasingly pervasive “sharing economy,” some entrepreneurs and private companies have begun to offer shared housing as an aspirational, market-based housing option. In NYC, design and development of the typology is more constrained than in most other cities due to the City’s rigid regulations. However, new shared housing providers in NYC have still seen considerable success.

The facilitation and regulation of shared housing is being explored by the City of New York as a potential policy tool to help satisfy unmet housing need and achieve affordable housing goals.

The City recognizes the clear need for more housing options for single adults and sees the potential for Shared Housing to help achieve affordable housing goals. Yet like many other cities, New York is also grappling with how to allow shared housing to be developed, while regulating the typology so that its past challenges do not resurface. In 2018, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development launched ShareNYC, its ongoing initiative to gather experience, knowledge, and insight into the development, operation, benefits, and challenges of shared housing; and to explore how new shared housing development could be used to offer a broader range of housing options.

CHPC’s Making Shared Housing Work contributes to the City’s regulatory exploration of shared housing.

This simple guide identifies several core themes for the success of shared housing, which were drawn from CHPC’s analysis of best practices for designing and operating shared housing.  This report allows the reader to learn from numerous interviews with various shared housing providers, including private operators and developers involved with the recent shared housing boom, as well as veteran providers of dormitories and supportive housing in NYC.





Making Room

Read more about CHPC’s Making Room research topic by going back to the Making Room page.

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