Stackable Inexpensive Apartments Could Help End Homelessness In London

Rent runs about $230 a week.

Homelessness is on the rise in London, but an efficient new housing model could help shelter people in need in this notoriously expensive city.

The average apartment or house rents for 1,500 British Pounds (about $2,300) and the market shows no sign of letting up, the Guardian reported in June. As housing becomes increasingly unaffordable, the number of people living on the streets continues to jump. 

But YMCA London South West recently unveiled a housing project geared toward homeless people that is inexpensive to build, yet provides all of the comforts anyone would want out of a home.

Y:Cube, designed by architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, cuts costs by building the three-story units offsite. Once the units are brought to the designated location, they stack easily on top of one another, or alongside each other, making it an optimal model for tight urban spaces, the YMCA noted in a press release. 

The organization debuted its first 36-unit development on Tuesday in South West London. 

Tenants pay about 148 British Pounds a week (about $230). 

The 26-square-meter apartments (that’s about 280 square feet) come equipped with a galley kitchen, separate bedroom and an en-suite toilet and shower. 

The designers behind the project managed to also save funds by building in an energy efficient way.

Constructed from eco-efficient materials, the units require little, to no heating, even during the winter.

The project was funded in part by YMCA London South West and with a grant of 337,000 British Pounds (about $500,000) from the Mayor of London’s Building the Pipeline initiative, and a number of other groups.

Half of the residents will come from the YMCA in Wimbledon and Merton Council will be able to nominate the rest.

In order to qualify for a spot, tenants must hold a job, pursue education opportunities or partake in volunteering projects. 

One of those tenants includes Wendy, 24, who became homeless last January after she lost her job at a photography studio.

When she couldn’t secure a place at a shelter due to extensive waiting lists, Wendy spent three nights sleeping on the streets during the heart of winter. Soon after, she was able to get a place to stay at No Second Night Out and eventually got a more permanent place in the hostel run by YMCA London South West. 

But Wendy was thrilled when she was able to land an apartment at the first Y:Cube development.

“Living independently in the Y:Cube will change my life completely,” Wendy said in a statement. “I will get my independence back."