Kanye West takes on the housing crisis, with help from Star Wars

Iconic rapper, entrepreneur and sneaker tycoon Kanye West is
trying something different for his latest business venture —
he’s taking on the affordable housing crisis.

On a lot in the woods 15 minutes outside of Los Angeles, West
reportedly is building prototypes of Star Wars-inspired structures
he intends to develop as affordable housing for low-income
residents. He’s even met with investors in San Francisco to
discuss funding the proposal,
Forbes recently reported
.

Details on the venture are scant, and there’s no word on where
West plans to put these space-aged structures. Attempts to reach
West, the husband of reality TV star Kim Kardashian, were
unsuccessful. But his plans represent yet another creative attempt
to solve California’s housing crisis, and they’re joining a
field already crowded with apartments made out of
converted shipping containers
,
co-living spaces
styled like grown-up dorms, and
bunk beds rented for $1,200 a month
. While Bay Area housing
activists aren’t rushing to embrace West’s proposal, his very
interest in the housing shortage shines a spotlight on the issue
that could help pull in resources to build more affordable
homes.

“We welcome his interest in finding solutions to housing
low-income families and seniors and the homeless,” said Matt
Schwartz, president and CEO of the housing nonprofit California
Housing Partnership. “But instead of focusing on a new design
aesthetic, we would ask him to focus on what’s most needed, which
are financing solutions.”

Forbes describes the celebrity’s prototype low-income homes as
a trio of structures rising up out of the woods. All three are
oblong in shape and dozens of feet tall, resembling “the
skeletons of wooden spaceships.” Apparently, they are inspired by
the Star Wars planet of Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker lived as a
child in an austere, igloo-shaped bungalow. West’s vision,
according to the Forbes article published online Tuesday, is to
perhaps house the homeless in the structures. He pictures the
buildings possibly sunk into the ground, with light coming into the
rooms through the ceiling.

But Schwartz says West’s plans may not be the most effective
way to address California’s housing shortage, or to house the
state’s homeless. Affordable housing experts favor building
high-density apartments that are centrally located, providing easy
access to public transportation, jobs and services to help
residents thrive. Instead, West appears to be proposing low-density
units that likely won’t be welcomed into any city center — and
as a result threaten to isolate their low-income residents without
access to important amenities, Schwartz said.

Instead of designing Star Wars-inspired structures, West would
do better to invest resources into the many low-income housing
projects already in the pipeline, or to partner with experienced
affordable housing organizations, Schwartz said.

West’s plan also calls to mind the
cautionary tale
of another celebrity turned developer — actor
Brad Pitt, who attempted to rebuild the storm-ravaged Lower Ninth
Ward of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. His foundation,
Make It Right, built more than 100 homes, but then faced litigation
claiming the homes were defective and falling apart.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Kanye West takes on the housing crisis, with help from Star Wars