An experiment in urban living: community housing in San Francisco

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Would you share a bathroom with a stranger? How about a kitchen? (KGO-TV)

Would you share a bathroom with a stranger? How about a kitchen? One Bay Area entrepreneur thinks shared living spaces is a solution to affordable housing and the people who live in his development tend to agree.

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Communal kitchens, shared bathrooms and a long hallway to bedrooms, there's even an activity calendar, which might remind you of a college dorm. But Chris Maddox disagrees, "that's a very different experience from here. We have our own private space, like sinks. I brush my teeth in my room at night."

Maddox was the first resident in the Starcity building in the Mission District, where he's lived for 11 months. Starcity has three community homes, located in the Mission, SOMA and North Beach. The aim of the shared living spaces is to make the city more affordable for working San Franciscans, like Maddox, who quit is job in tech so he could pursue writing.

"We talk a lot about gentrification and I think one of the challenges is people just can't live here, can't compete with the salaries that are being paid to tech workers. That really drive up the rents," explained Maddox who cut his rent in half, to $2,100 per month, by moving to Starcity. "I can continue to write and be in the same area that I would have otherwise wanted to live in," says Maddox who sees socializing with the other residents as an added benefit to the living arrangement.

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"Our goal is sort of to be in the heart of San Francisco," says Jon Dishotsky, Starcity's CEO and co-founder who added, "anything that's transit oriented, like 10 minutes walk from BART, Muni, most all of our residents don't have cars."

Dishotsky founded Starcity two years ago and is developing 14 other properties in San Francisco, and one property in Oakland. He says his aspirations extend beyond affordable housing for the millennial set, "there's a nanny share or grandma lives with the group, that would obviously bring the cost of childcare down significantly."

Dishotsky says there is a waitlist, almost 9,000 applicants long. He plans to deliver 2,000 more units by 2019.
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