It’s common knowledge that most major cities need more affordable housing. Wages have not kept up with inflation; many people work two or three low paying jobs with no benefits and just barely keep it together regarding basic monthly expenses for food, shelter, transportation. So it was with a keen interest I recently went to the grand opening of the 7509 Penn duplex in Waldo–a unit designed to address the growing affordable housing crisis.
The project, a partnership between Botwin Commercial Development, el dorado inc architects and Kansas State University’s School of Architecture Design+Make Studio and Studio Build. The goal is to design and construct high quality, affordable housing with rent that is based on individual income levels, based on federal guidelines. Each unit is 735 square feet, with two bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen, living space, and laundry room on a concrete slab. You can see the minimalist, contemporary design here, featuring metal roofs, a steel and wood front porch plus shared exterior space between the two units to promote community and interaction among the residents.
At the grand opening last week, I spoke with David Alpert, a KSU grad who works for Botwin. He explained that the students involved did everything: they made the cabinets, put up the siding, designed the space and chose the materials to use. “Affordable housing is needed everywhere” says Alpert, talking about how it was exciting to have students learn by doing–they started the project and saw it through completion. Alpert is particularly interested in affordable multi-generational housing, for which there is a growing demand. So many retired older adults would like to live independently, but also close by or connected to younger members of the family, in separate quarters. This type of housing needs to be built with affordable prices for those on more modest and middle class incomes. Part of the challenge regarding new, affordable housing is lack of vacant land near city services (public transportation, shops, grocery, services, jobs) and the profit motive for builders.
Thanks to KSU and their partners for bringing at least two, new affordable housing units to the popular Waldo area…it’s a start! You can see this duplex at 7509 Pennsylvania, just south of 75th and Pennsylvania in Waldo.