Prefab units could help solve the region's affordable housing crisis

EDMONDS, Wash. — A 260-square-foot housing unit outside Edmonds Lutheran Church could represent a solution for the region's affordable housing crisis.

The unit has a small living and dining space with a pullout bed, a small kitchen and a bathroom.

It was made by Blokable at the company's Vancouver, Washington factory and assembled on site in three hours.

"It's high quality, low cost. We can bring those two things together because we're manufacturing," said Blokable's co-CEO Aaron Holm.

Manufacturing drives down the cost so much that the home costs $60,000, compared to $300,000 for a traditionally built affordable housing unit.

"Think of this as a piece of LEGO. It can be stacked three stories high and we can build entire communities," Holm said.

Compass Housing Alliance plans a community of Blokable units on the church property.

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Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw gave a presentation Thursday about how modular housing could help the region's affordable housing crisis.

"It is part of the solution," Bagshaw said in an interview. "Vancouver is finding it so and I think it's a model that we can build on."

Bagshaw visited Vancouver, B.C., where the government is building 600 units of modular housing.

"We can get housing in 90 days from the time the land is identified and prepped," Bagshaw said of the modular option.

Traditional construction can take years.

Vancouver's modular housing is temporary.

Aaron Holm of Blokable says his company's units are designed for permanent use, and could be good options for home ownership with mortgages around $700 per month.

"Everything we build is something we would live in ourselves and it's something we would own forever," Holm said.