How Portsmouth City Council could repurpose empty buildings like the Sainsbury in Commercial Road

We need affordable housing. A lot of it. Particularly young people need this. Young people who don’t have families yet. Certainly now that the pandemic has cut short a lot of opportunities. But there are people of all ages who have no families and who need this. An ideal solution would enable people to stop building up debt and pay them off instead. See it as a form of universal income.

Stopping people from being forced to pay a huge chunk of their income towards rent effectively provides them with more income, after all.

The usual approach is to spend a lot of money on construction, leading to a need to charge relatively high rents that keep people trapped. What if you took a controversial but innovative approach and offer small homes that may look like pigeon holes or rabbit cages but that have everything that people need – including internet access – and allow them to keep their expenses down dramatically?

I got that idea from a video that I watched a few years ago about developments in Japan.

What people need is a warm but private and safe place to sleep and relax, shower, eat and even work, for some.

Tiny high-quality compartments that give people everything they need and allow them to save on rent big time, pay off debts and build up savings are more than only “rabbit cages for the poor” or “pigeon holes for the young”. Provided you do it well and don’t create a ghetto. Rents should be 100 to 200 pounds. The place should have free wifi, could have a few shops – a supermarket and a take-away – and a laundramat.

It should have some rules, such as “you are allowed to consume alcohol and you are allowed to misbehave a little while drunk but if you do it more than five times in a year, you’re out”.

(Bans say “we think you’re irresponsible and so we take your personal responsibility away from you”. Bans spell contempt and ghetto.)

The pandemic would complicate this a little bit, right now, and still require a lot of discipline right now. But the pandemic will pass and it will take a little time to create these living spaces.

I’ll see if I can find the video that I watched to give you some idea what I am talking about. (But I no longer have my older watch history.) It was a documentary about maybe a gamer, not about the housing but about the way this person was living his life. And maybe it was not Japan. I am not talking the usual (cage homes etc). I am talking a collection of modern, purpose-built living spaces in one building. It’s not a solution for the long term, of course, but it is a solution that could particularly give young people’s finances a boost and allow them to focus on things that matter. No more worries about how to pay for a new washing machine for example.

Possibly manga kissas?

I found a video about a software engineer living in a manga kissa in Tokyo because he does not want travel “home” for hours. Has been living in manga kissas for five years. This is not literally what I have in mind for places like Portsmouth, but you can build on this idea. I’ll see what else I can find. The video I refer to above was older.

It must be this one because it is five years old and I had already liked it. Not a gamer but a webmaster.


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