New Tech Startup Takes On Affordable Housing

As a former Amazon project manager, Aaron Holm has seen the tech industry gentrify Seattle, as the city struggles to keep up with housing demand. With thousands of people flocking to the city annually, the local municipality couldn’t build enough housing to prevent rising rents and homelessness, Geek Wire reports.

Holm wants to change this.

Blokable is a tech startup meets housing project, creating affordable homes through manufacturing. Geek Wire reports that Holm and his team aim to use a factory model to create homes quickly and affordably. This project puts another possible solution on the table for the 1.6 billion people living in inadequate housing globally, using individual modules as the main structure.

“Blokable is dedicated to helping municipalities and housing non-profits meet the housing challenges facing cities today,” the company says on their website. “With the Blokable system of configurable, connectable modules, we can deliver move-in ready building blocks to create homes and communities. Our flexible spaces allow for the creation of single or multi-story studios, apartments, common spaces and support buildings.”

Geek Wire reports that the “bloks” are between 18 and 38 feet, with customizable options. Customers can add bathrooms, decks, stairs, railings, and windows. The company can build units on individual or shared lots, with options for single family homes, apartments, and other forms of affordable housing.

These features open up options that low-income people would not have otherwise. For people who can’t afford adequate housing, even the most basic household tasks are out of their reach. A bathroom remodel, which 60% of homeowners plan to do, would certainly come second to other basic needs. Even structural solutions are reserved for more privileged homeowners, with the average window replacement costing between $300 and $700 per window.

Home said in a statement to Geek Wire that his experience with Amazon influenced his effort to streamline the building process.

“I was really deeply involved in the scaling out of building physical space [for Amazon],” he said. “And I just saw how inefficient the industry was, and it all just sort of made sense to me in a moment, and from that point when it all came together, there was nothing else that I wanted to do.”

Blokable will be initially focusing on providing emergency housing for homeless people and will be starting production in Seattle, Portland, and Palo Alto, according to Geek Wire. He said in a statement that he hopes that his startup will succeed in both its business and humanitarian initiatives.

“In this particular market and in this particular business, there is an opportunity to create a wildly successful company that also makes a hugely positive impact on the society where we live,” he said. “It’s really hard stuff that we are working on, advanced manufacturing, changing rules for housing, shipping. The team is just incredible, and getting people behind this idea has been really rewarding.”

Photo Credit: Blokable on Facebook

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