You have made that bold move to pursue your dreams in California. But what can you do if your life goals include working in Los Angeles or San Francisco, yet you lack the means to rent a room, let alone secure the security deposit and months of rent needed to score an apartment? Podshare, which touts itself as the future of housing, says it has a solution.
And solutions are in dire need. There is no shortage of reports covering the high cost of real estate across California and much of the U.S., as well as the concurrent homelessness crisis.
California is the focal point of this debate, where rents continue to increase at a rapid pace in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. Many workers’ pay, however, can’t keep up. The state’s leaders have been scrambling to come up with a solution, with the debate raging from statewide rent control to easing regulations so that much-needed affordable, high-density housing can be built.
But if California is going to remain as a vital place where it’s worthwhile to live and work, the debate needs to expand past getting permitting for multi-level housing near transit hubs, or whether legislation can pass to ensure tenants have both peace of mind and economic security statewide, from Crescent City to San Diego.
Plus, there is the stubborn fact that many younger workers find their living and economic options limited. First, they need to score that job. Then, there is the staggering debt many have taken on to finance their education. Even if they find a fantastic job with a leading technology firm, gathering all the cash they need for renting a house or apartment, even with roommates, may be too far of a stretch.
The bottom line is that many of our assumptions about how we live are in need of a jolt, and therein lies Podshare’s vision.
“Breaking up the payments with nightly and weekly stays allows folks to afford staying—whether it’s because they are paycheck-to-paycheck, don’t yet know if co-living is for them, or don’t have a definite date of how long they’re in town for,” founder and CEO Elvina Beck wrote in a letter explaining what motivated her to launch Podshare.
From Beck’s point of view, the benefits of living in a Podshare property are multifold. It could be an option for workers who are close to homelessness with few options but need to find a place fast before it’s too late to get mired in such a spiral. Maybe that new arrival has doubts whether the job is really going to be a long-term option and does not want to commit to a one-year lease. And there’s the community aspect: Beck claimed that in several years of running the company, she witnessed many residents find their future roommate, who then frequently relocated to a new home within a three-mile radius of a Podshare.
Beck makes it clear that these Podshare locations don’t open “in a place that I don’t want to live in.” That means locations in popular, high-density areas like downtown L.A., Hollywood, Westwood, Venice Beach and Los Feliz. A location recently opened in San Francisco, and Beck is open to developing other Podshare sites, as well as establishing a co-living space network, within the U.S. and even abroad.
You could say Beck is opening an egalitarian door that for generations many of us have dreamed about, but in reality, is increasingly out of reach: the chance to live in work in that city we’ve long thought would be a great place to launch or relaunch a career.
Finally, there are the environmental aspects that justify a serious look at such co-living spaces. The neighborhoods in which Podshare locations open are already densely populated. There are no new build-outs: Each location is a reuse of a previously standing building or are already part of an existing structure. And Podshare’s residents are not commuting far, as they are trading high rents and long commute times for convenience.
Based on a cursory review of some travel and peer-review sites including TripAdvisor, Beck’s housing model is working out. While these 50-square-foot living spaces are available for a nightly fee, the community is largely driven by those who are paying by the week or month—and are also using their long-term yet temporary home as a workspace.
Sure, as CNN points out, that equals to be about a $1,200 monthly tab, which at first glance seems steep until you consider the fact a studio apartment alone will be far more. Plus, this dorm-style arrangement (Beck and Podshare prefer “co-living”) can be a more attractive option than commuting as far as two hours each way to and from some pallid exurb.
Solving our housing crisis cannot just happen with tweaking regulations and hoisting new buildings. A long-term answer will require a complete rethink. If we are really going to cope with an unaffordable real estate market, we need more minds like Beck’s.
Image credits: Podshare/Instagram
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.