By Paulina Pineda| July 24th, 2019
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Want to own your very own tiny home in downtown Tempe?

A developer is building 13 homes that are 600 square feet on city-owned land near the Jen Tilly Terrace neighborhood.

The idea is to offer a new type of affordable housing option as Phoenix-area residents feel the squeeze of rising costs to rent and buy a home. Leaders in Tempe, which has become increasingly urban as the landlocked city approaches build-out, have discussed housing affordability at length.

One solution is the partnership with Newtown Community Development Corporation, a Tempe-based nonprofit, to build the small homes.

Newtown will host a meeting in August for people interested in purchasing one of the homes.

The meeting will be held 2 p.m. Aug. 10 at Cortez Coffee, 1030 E. Vista Del Cerro. Those interested in attending must RSVP by email to David Crummey, Newtown's real estate development manager, at [email protected].

Newtown staff hopes to gauge the community's interest in the project and provide information on how to apply. Applications should be available in September, Crummey said.

Construction is expected to begin this winter and take six months, putting the completion date around mid-2020, he said.

As housing prices rise faster than income, Phoenix's residents face challenges

The gap between what Phoenix-area residents earn and what they pay for housing is growing and putting the squeeze on many.

Home prices have not yet been announced, but at least half of the homes will be income-capped, Crummey said.

Courtyard community

The project, called Tempe Micro Estates, will be built on three vacant lots near Rita Lane and Spence Avenue, which the city purchased with federal funds to spur the development of affordable housing.

Newtown will build a dozen two-story, 600-square-foot homes. Each home will feature a loft-style bedroom on the second floor. A kitchen, living room and bathroom will be on the first floor.

The 13th home will be single-story to provide greater accessibility for people who use a wheelchair or have other mobility issues.

Each home will face a central courtyard where residents can manage their own kitchen garden.

Residents will have access to a 900-square-foot community building with a kitchen, laundry room, book and game library and tool shed.

SQUEEZED OUT: People struggle to buy houses, pay rent as prices outstrip incomes

Homes will remain permanently affordable

Final prices will depend on construction costs, grants and city fees, Crummey said. 

About half the homes will be available for people making less than 80% of the area's median income, he said. The area's median income is $46,650 for a two-person household.

The rest of the homes will not be income-capped but Crummey said Newtown's goal is to keep them as affordable as possible. Monthly mortgage prices will likely be comparable to rent prices for a similar-sized, one-bedroom apartment in the area, according to Newtown's website.

The homes are part of a Community Land Trust, which ensures that the homes remain affordable in perpetuity and that homeowners can't sell them for a large profit, he said.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: Arizona families living in tiny homes

How to apply

People interested in owning one of the "micro estates" can attend the August meeting or sign up for updates on Newtown's website. People can also call Newtown for details at 480-517-1589.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Newtown offers housing counseling to help prospective homeowners get their finances in order to purchase a home.

What are you seeing in Tempe's housing market? Reach reporter Paulina Pineda at [email protected] or 602-444-8130. Follow her on Twitter: @paulinapineda22.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

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