Bedrooms: A vote for stability
By Rachel Vecchitto. Also published as a letter to the editor in the Daily Camera on September 11, 2021.
One measure on this November’s ballot, Bedrooms Are For People (BAFP), will make it legal for one person to live in each bedroom of a home, plus one. As Boulder housing prices soar and the pandemic continues, voting yes is a small, concrete step we can take to provide housing security for more of our neighbors.
Under Boulder’s current maximum of three unrelated adults per home in most of the city, our average household size is about 2.2 people. These limits do not apply to related adults, and apply no matter how big the home is. Portland, Oregon allows up to six unrelated adults to share a home, and the average household size there is about 2.4. In Seattle, those numbers are eight unrelated adults and an average household size of about 2.1.
These and many other examples illustrate that higher occupancy limits do not lead to an increase in average household size. Instead, higher occupancy limits provide security — having your name on the lease removes the threat of arbitrary evictions, and the ability to buy a home with chosen family makes home ownership accessible to more people. These things are especially critical now, when the people who are most affected by the economic uncertainty of the pandemic are also the most likely to be living in housing situations that currently qualify as over-occupied.
Opponents of BAFP are stoking fears of drastic change, but those fears are unfounded. As other cities have shown, we can provide housing security for more people during this unprecedented time and make our community more resilient and inclusive without meaningfully increasing average household size.