My father spent part of his childhood living in a housing project and I support low-income housing. Nevertheless, basic urban planning should be required regardless of whether housing is low-income or high-income. The construction of a new 180-unit apartment building would require a public process and an analysis of effects on traffic patterns and schools. Yet the Inlet Tower Hotel downtown was converted to 180 efficiency apartments with little to no public process.
Cities Outside are experimenting with “micro-housing” to provide workers with affordable housing in city centers. The difference is that they are using a methodical approach through planning and zoning requirements to both benefit neighborhoods and protect tenants from a tenement-like situation.
For example, other cities require per-unit occupancy limits, and either full kitchenettes in units or communal kitchens so that tenants can cook regular meals. The Inlet Tower appears to have none of the above. I applaud AHFC’s and developers’ efforts to solve Anchorage’s affordable housing shortage but let’s start planning micro-housing the right way.
— Ashley List