Urban Rooming Houses (for the 21st Century) (Neiman Taber)

Norm Van Eeden Petersman
Norm Van Eeden Petersman
  • Updated

Typical unit.jpg


From: Neiman Taber Architects


We would still be developing and building congregate micro-housing projects if we could, but under today’s conditions there's been no way forward for more projects like this to be built by market-rate developers.

That's the bad news. Here's the good news. We've figured out a solution that solves a whole host of development challenges and provides a viable development model for congregate housing that can be built today. We've decided to share this concept openly - allowing us find mission-aligned investors & partners to get a project like this rolling, or for someone else to simply take this idea and run with it themselves. 


What’s the solution?

Our proposal is a hybrid between a large multi-bedroom apartment and a rooming house. Its essentially a multi-bedroom apartment with a very large kitchen, a few shared bathrooms, and a lot of bedrooms. The bedrooms have no private bathroom or kitchenette - the bathrooms and kitchens are all shared. Projects like this have always been possible to a degree, but the State of Washington changed the game in 2021 when they passed SB 5235, a law that removed arbitrary limits on the number of occupants in a dwelling unit. Where cities used to impose a limit of x bedrooms per dwelling unit, there is now no limit other than those that may be imposed by “generally applicable health and safety provisions as established by applicable building code or city ordinance”. An apartment with a large number of bedrooms will now count as a single dwelling unit under land use and zoning codes.

The upper size limit of a dwelling unit per SB 5235 remains untested, but there is clear language in the building code today that recognizes a 16-bedroom rooming house as a scale that is a low hazard, and so we believe there is a viable code path to design a building based on 16-unit apartments with shared bathrooms and kitchens.

We’re calling this idea an Urban Rooming House. 

(read more here


Urban Rooming House - Simplified Proforma

Urban Rooming House - Floor Plans


Related Content











Saying Yes to All Types of Housing in Your Community




Was this article helpful?

0 out of 0 found this helpful

Have more questions? Submit a request



Please sign in to leave a comment.