Contractor’s tiny homes may help solve housing problem

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico is not immune to a housing shortage being felt across the country.

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition found “no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters.”

In New Mexico, the report shows there are 43 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 renter who makes 30 percent or less than their area’s median income. It’s a number that doesn’t surprise Santa Fe contractor Zane Fischer.

“We’re not looking at a problem coming down the road,” said Fischer. “We’re waking up to a problem in the middle of it.”

Fischer is the CEO of Extraordinary Structures. He’s focused on creating an efficient, affordable way to build energy-smart homes. Usually, that means fewer square feet.

“Smaller homes is less area to heat and to cool, not to mention vacuum which we all enjoy a break from every once in a while,” said Fischer. “But the other end is figuring out how to, you know, not necessarily do huge high rise apartment blocks, but if we can make pocket neighborhoods or compact communities where we’re living in smaller houses with shared open space we can maximize our resources and kind of create those neighborhoods of yesteryear and those European neighborhoods that we all find still have so much charm,” said Fischer.

A 200-square-foot tiny house sits just outside their Santa Fe workshop. Fischer says it already sold for $80,000.

Like anything else, to reduce the cost of housing, you need to increase supply. Fischer says many zoning regulations prevent the construction of high-density housing.

“There is zoning that’s creating problems that limit us from building casitas, from doing smart density, from doing fourplexes and duplexes, and finding other ways of smart, beautiful, character-rich urban living,” said Fischer.

Fischer says he is already seeing some positive changes in New Mexico. He says Albuquerque’s new zoning code is a step in the right direction, and he believes Santa Fe’s new administration is making affordable housing a priority.“We need to move really fast and create bold solutions,” said Fischer. “A big part of that is going to be political will. It’s our mayors and our city councilors and representative saying, ‘we’re making changes and not all of them are going to be popular but we have to do this for the good of everyone,’" said Fischer.

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