If you’ve ever wondered about the cost of building an affordable housing unit in New York City, you can now learn firsthand the price of maintenance and development courtesy of a new online video game created by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council.
The game is called Inside the Rent, and it lets you play the role of developer, construction foreman and superintendent. The game intends to elucidate how various things like neighborhood location and construction costs affect the price of rent.
The game’s instructions are straightforward enough and explain how each player is tasked with “planning a rental building in New York City that will help to alleviate our chronic housing shortage. It notifies the player that “the rent charged for each apartment must sustain the construction and operating costs of the building through the first year.”
The ultimate goal is to spark a dialogue about housing policy between politicians and the public about how precarious it is to finance affordable housing in New York City.
For instance, when I played the game, I chose to set the price of a two-bedroom apartment in Bushwick at $1,250 per month. While including prevailing wages for construction and maintenance workers and declining to take any kind of government subsidy in the process, the cost of building overrode the price of my projected rent nearly at the outset of construction.
Verdict: affordable housing is hard to manage.
You can visit the Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s website to play the game here.