Packing workers in like sardines
San Francisco is trying to solve the housing crisis for its shriveling middle class by moving them into micro-apartments rebranded as fun-loving dormitories.
The concept of jamming tech workers into micro-apartment and group dorms has been common in China’s coastal manufacturing communities for decades. The 2013 China Labor Watch report regarding Pegatron Group factories, which supplied iPhones and iPads, caused Apple massive embarrassment and forced Silicon Valley to adopt standards for Chinese worker dorms.
But today, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest start-ups is San Francisco’s Starcity Development, which is acquiring and repurposing derelict commercial buildings to serve as “dorms for grown-ups.” The goal is to attract professionals who cannot afford the city’s average $3,405 per month rent for a 1-bedroom apartment, despite annual earnings of $50-$100,000 a year.
Each of the company’s first three projects — located at 229 Ellis St. in the Tenderloin; 650 Sacramento St. in the Financial District; and 1028 Kearny St. in North Beach — feature about 20 fully-furnished units with 130 to 220 square feet of living space.
Amenities include group bathrooms, common eating areas, and shared assembly spaces. With $1,400 to $2,400 rents that include free utilities and Wi-Fi, Starcity claims its backlog is over 8,000 renters.
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