Pam Dorr, director of affordable housing at Menlo Park-based nonprofit Soup, has a plan to alleviate the housing crisis in Silicon Valley. Her goal is to build 10,000 prefab granny flats in people's backyards over the next 10 years, says The Bay Area News Group's Marisa Kendall. She hopes she can produce the homes for less than $100,000 each for homeless or low-income families through Soup. She describes more in this Q+A:

Q: Why do you think these backyard homes are going to be a big part of the solution to our housing crisis?
A: If we think of each of us as being a partial solution to homelessness, it’s one way we can help. So if I own a home and I’m not utilizing my backyard fully, but recognize that I could house someone who’s on the street in my backyard, that’s a really quick way to increase my income and also help someone else at the same time.

Q: Will these homes mostly go to low-income families?
A: What we’re doing is proposing that if they’re willing to rent to somebody with a Section 8 voucher, like a formerly homeless family or an extremely low-income family, eventually we’ll be able to offer a decrease in the cost of the unit to do that, by working with cities that might have some affordable housing money. Ideally we start just reproducing quickly and having a team of people that are ready to deploy them. I think always if we can book time in a factory where we can do 10, 20, 30, 100 units at a time it becomes much more cost-effective for the factory to service us.

Q: What are some worries people have about these backyard units?
A I think a lot of us are concerned with density and whether we have the infrastructure to support extra units. We all worry about parking, we worry about the crushing traffic, we worry about can we get utilities to our ADUs (accessory dwelling units.) If the family isn’t using a car and is using public transportation, if they use a bicycle, it makes it a lot easier to have extra homes around without making it a problem for all of us. I think we’re all worried about traffic. None of us want to make that problem worse.

Read More