New Bay Area rental concept includes sleeping pods in shared home for $800 a month

While they share the kitchen and other spaces, the 14 residents sleep in pods a bit larger than a twin bed.
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Rent in the Bay Area is unaffordable for many people, especially if they're starting a new job or working as an intern. A new concept -- sleeping in small, individual pods in a shared house -- is being tried in Silicon Valley.

The rent for a three-bedroom, two-bath house like some in Palo Alto could easily run from $6,000 to $8,000. The residents are paying $800 per month. While they share the kitchen and other spaces, the 14 residents sleep in pods a bit larger than a twin bed.

"Our pods are actually eight feet tall, so it gives enough room for like bigger people and like also some wiggle room, so they're not like the Japanese capsules. They're a bit larger," said Brownstone Shared Housing Co-Founder Christina Lennox.

The pods are outfitted with a temperature-controlled fan, lighting, a fold-down desk and whatever personal touches they'd like to add. Christina, who designed the pods, says she can cocoon here all day, as do others.

She and co-founder James Stallworth wanted to address the need for affordable housing. They tried to do this in New York but ran into objections. Palo Alto doesn't set a limit on renters in a single-family house. They also found a cooperative landlord.

"We told them about our concept and the benefits of it and how it would help people, and the landlord was interested," Stallworth said.

Residents are all in their 20's, getting started or doing internships. Luis Alsonso from Peru loves access to the kitchen. Sleeping in a pod is fine.

"For me, I don't need a big space. At night when I go to sleep, I need just one bed," said resident Alonso.

In a year, the idea went from a concept to affordable housing for 20 at two sites. Financed mostly by savings and family.

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