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New “tiny houses” will offer affordable housing

By Liz Elan

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    TEMPE, Arizona (KPHO/KTVK) — Thirteen tiny houses, also called “micro estates,” are being built in the heart of Tempe. The buildings are going up on an infill plot of land that’s less than an acre, near Rural Road and University Drive. The houses are free-standing units that measure 600 square feet. And here’s a plus: they’re affordable.

“Shocking for Arizona, right?” remarked Stephanie Brewer, executive director of Newtown Community Development Corporation.

The houses will cost $170,000. A one-person household can’t make more than $43,600 a year to buy one.

Newtown CDC is an affordable housing non-profit. They purchased the land from the city of Tempe for just $30, which is why it can charge less. “Trying to find anything that is suitable to live in is pricing people out of the market, and then it is raising rents, so we have a lot of people we are trying to help get unstuck,” said Brewer.

Newtown CDC even helps families come up with a down payment. And when they want to sell the property back to the non-profit, they leave with 25% of the appreciation of the home. “So now a family is being able to sell their property, and leave with actual money instead of being upside down in it,” she said.

With being able to fit all of these homes on such a small parcel of land, the non-profit says other cities should be able to donate the same. “What I think other cities are starting to realize is that they have infill lots like this. This is not just a Tempe-specific thing. You know, downtown Glendale, downtown Peoria, they have lots like this that they don’t know what to do with. So I think we are being able to prove that you can actually create units.”

And with housing prices skyrocketing everywhere, it’s something the non-profit hopes to see more of in the future. “I hope that it is done again. The Valley needs it; the Valley needs affordable housing, and we just need to produce units.”

All 13 homes will be finished in October. There are still four units up for sale.

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