Housing its homeless neighbors and those in need has always been a major concern for a city as densely populated as Seattle. With issues exacerbated by the pandemic, one company has devised a new way to meet housing needs through adaptable design and simple materials.
City Pods recently unveiled its prototype housing unit: a pod designed to be placed indoors, in underutilized spaces that have heating and plumbing, such as warehouses or empty storefronts. The pods offer a safe, comfortable and private space for an individual to sleep. These units are built from easy-to-replace PVC panels with an aluminum frame. The panels are easy to clean, resistant to bacteria, and can easily be swapped out or reconfigured if necessary.
The pods also come equipped with fans, sprinkler systems and Amazon Fire tablets affixed to the wall to allow residents to access virtual services in the privacy of their room. The interior space totals about 64 square feet, although they can be expanded up to 50% by adding more panels. The pods have a target price of about $12,000 per unit and will be built in Washington State.
One community college in Puget Sound is weighing the pods as an option for its homeless students, as the pods are less cost prohibitive than building new residential buildings on campus. The college may use a vacant Safeway as a potential option for the pods, but amenities like bathrooms, showers, and communal kitchen and laundry spaces still need to be considered.
Statewide, there is a clear need for new housing options; a recent study by the University of Washington determined there were 839 tents being used as shelter in 2019, with numbers increasing by 53% after the pandemic. A one-night count in early 2020 estimated that there were about 23,000 people in Washington experiencing homelessness — a number that has likely increased since the onset of the pandemic.