Bloomberg Pushes For Tiny, Formerly Illegal “Micro-Apartments”

A proposed Micro-Apartment layout

If you had one complaint about New York apartments, what would it be? “Not small enough?” That’s what we thought. No need to worry, because Mayor Bloomberg hears you loud and clear! As such, he’s proposed the creation of new “micro-apartments,” which are exactly what they sound like – tiny, crowded spaces catering to the young, single, and desperate. Beats having roommates, no?

The minimum legal size for a single apartment unit is currently 400 square feet with a correlated limit to units-per-building, regulations the mayor is working around by housing the first batch of micro-apartments in a city-owned building on East 27th St. This loophole will allow for units ranging from 275 to 300 square feet, and for the building to fit around 88 of these fun-sized apartments, about twice as many as it would hold with a traditional layout. “This is an opportunity to use design to provide more housing options for New Yorkers,” said Planning commissioner Amanda Burden. “The statistics show we don’t have enough housing for the people who want to live in this city, and designers can help us figure out the best ways to address these problems.”

The city is currently accepting proposals from developers that will fill at least 75% of the building with “micro-units,” which officials say will make financial sense for building owners as well as singles (and new “divorcees,” according to one planner) looking for an affordable place to set up camp, with units likely clocking in under $2,000/month. The program echoes similar proposals in Boston, London, and the Bay Area, and reportedly aims to reduce the number of young people cramming into otherwise unaffordable apartments that ideally would be used by families. Fun fact: apparently it’s illegal for four unrelated adults to share an apartment, and, ironically enough, illegal to live in an apartment’s living room. Who knew?

“This is about creating housing that meets the needs of today’s New Yorkers,” Bloomberg said. “We want people to come here to start their careers here, to start out here, to start their families here. If they can’t afford to live here, then that’s a problem.”

While affordable housing is always an admirable goal and an all-too-rare commodity, Bloomberg’s vision of cheap apartments for every single person that hopes to move to the city is a little, shall we say, ambitious, unless perhaps people start breaking into what we hear is an untouched housing market in East New York. Really though, it’s just the idea of creating spaces that are even more cramped than they already are that’s hard to swallow. But who knows, maybe the city’s design whizzes will prove us wrong?