How can we make the new apartments as comfortable and livable as possible?
On February 12, OTSH conducted a public forum to inform the community about the four units we are planning to build at 963 Pope St. While our first responsibility was to alert the neighborhood about upcoming changes to the property, we had another motive. We want to make these low-income housing units as comfortable and functional as possible for new renters. We wanted their ideas and feedback on ways we can make these apartments more convenient and livable.
BOD member Marisol Vargas translated the meeting into Spanish
Erica Roetman Sklar, OTSH’s project manager for the Pope St. property, and Marisol Vargas, OTSH board member and manager of Hunt’s Grove Apartments, facilitated the meeting. Marisol translated the meeting into Spanish, and she and Erica noted the ideas on how to improve the day-to-day apartment living experience.
- Because units will have only one bathroom, position the toilet in a location separate from the bathroom shower and sink. In a busy household, this provides more privacy if someone needs to go to the bathroom while someone is showering.
- Turn the front of the property that’s now planted with shrubbery and roses into a BBQ area.
- First floor should be 100% hard-surface flooring, such as tile or linoleum.
- Install a stackable washer and dryer in the unit. Most owners do not have extra income to purchase their own machines. Going to the laundromat to do a family’s laundry takes a huge amount of time.
- A small storage area in the back of the property with space allocated for each unit to store things they need to keep but don’t use every day—suitcases, Christmas decorations, tools, etc.
- The largest refrigerators possible for families; it’s more economical to buy in bulk. These families cook!
- Having a large master bedroom is not so important; the space would be better allocated to the second bedroom, which will need to accommodate two beds.
- Energy-efficient central heat and air was very important. Affordable rental apartments often have just a window AC unit in the living room. The upstairs units get so hot that it is difficult to sleep in the summer.
- Installations for flatscreen TVs mounted on the wall will save space in small living rooms. Interesting note: No one seemed to care about having a TV in the bedrooms.
A big thank-you to our neighbors for participating in our forum. Most of their thoughtful suggestions are easy, logical and cost-effective ideas that we’ll take into planning sessions with our architects as we continue to move forward on this project.