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Mission Housing, partner transformed a former parking lot into 131 affordable apartments

From Fast Company

Photo Cred: Alain McLaughlin (AMP Advanced Acct)

Until recently, a strip of land near a transit station in San Francisco was an underused parking lot. Now it’s home to more than 100 affordable apartments.

There’s no longer any parking for cars on the site. But there’s an indoor storage room for bikes, and residents can walk across a plaza to get on a train or board a bus. For low-income San Franciscans who might otherwise be forced to move out of the city because of the cost of housing—and spend as much as three hours commuting to work as a teacher, nurse, or barista—living without a car can be more convenient, less expensive, and make it easier to shrink their carbon footprints.

By ditching parking completely, there was a bigger budget and more room for building apartments. By some estimates, building a single parking space can cost as much as $70,000 to $80,000 in the city. “We’re talking about 35 or 40 more units that we got because we didn’t build parking,” says Sam Moss, executive director for Mission Housing, the nonprofit that partnered on the project with the city’s housing office and the developer Related California.

There’s so much demand for affordable apartments that the city’s waiting list often has around 10,000 people, he says. Still, some potential residents who were offered spots in the building chose not to move because there wasn’t parking. Moss, who has lived in the city without a car for a decade, argues that everyone should have the option to live next to transit. (And though the building is energy-efficient and 100% electric, the fact that it’s car-free is probably the most sustainable part of the design.)

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