One of Seattle’s neighbors is embracing a new path to middle housing by incorporating “cottage housing” into its neighborhoods. Shoreline is making strides in the statewide push to increase Washington’s supply of middle housing with this new plan, which will increase access to more affordable housing in the area.
“Middle housing” has become a popular term in recent years, referring to housing styles that fall between large single-family homes and dense apartments. Not only is middle housing more affordable for young adults looking to purchase their first home and seniors who want to downsize, it’s also a denser housing type than typical single-family homes, and allows for more new construction on city lots.
The cottage housing model Shoreline recently approved will allow for clusters of two to 24 mid-sized residences, sited around a shared outdoor space. The homes have no minimum size, but will be capped at 1,500 square feet to maintain density and affordability.
The cottages will be placed around a shared courtyard, with their front doors oriented toward the shared space in the center. Each courtyard will encompass a minimum of 250 square feet per surrounding dwelling. This arrangement is designed to encourage interactions between neighbors and foster a sense of community.
Cottages that meet requirements for green construction, transit access and affordable housing will get density bonuses, allowing up to twice as many units as usual. Additionally, the Shoreline city council approved a requirement for at least one parking space per cottage, which is less than the typical two spaces allotted for single-family homes in the city.
At the moment, single-family homes with their own yards make up 67% of the housing inventory in Shoreline, despite the fact that one- and two-person households make up 61% of the city. Younger adults and seniors are the fast-growing demographics in Shoreline, necessitating more middle-housing options like the cottage clusters.
Policymakers in the city point out that while Shoreline has many neighborhoods made up of single-family homes, not everyone needs a large home. Providing options for first-time homebuyers to enter the market, and for seniors to comfortably downsize, is crucial to protecting the city’s growth in the future.