Since 2015, Common has opened 25 buildings in six markets, providing a convenient, friendly way for thousands of people to live in major urban centers. Demand has been overwhelming, as we now receive over 2,500 inbound applications per week.
However, the single people and couples served by coliving today aren’t the only groups feeling pain from the urban housing crisis. By many measures, families with young children have it worse. Families need lots of space, which is difficult to come by in major cities. And they’re often competing with groups of roommates for a limited inventory of two and three bedroom units. On top of all that, families with two working parents need to pay for childcare.
To me, this is personal: when our son was born in 2015, my wife and I searched in vain for affordable, high-quality childcare in NYC. Childcare costs have only increased over the past 20 years, placing a massive burden on families across the United States. As more families migrate to economic opportunities in expensive urban hubs, they often leave their own extended families — the most obvious source of free childcare — behind. Over 60% of American families who rent are dual-income households. Of those, only 15% use grandparents or other relatives for childcare. The rest are dependent on daycare, nannies, or other ad-hoc childcare solutions. On top of this, the cost of childcare has risen more than twice as fast as other goods and services since 2009. You can find our childcare research summarized here.
Despite a startup boom, few companies were filling the gap left by the public sector by providing the kind of ubiquitous and affordable childcare found in the creches of France, for instance. After investigating our (limited) options, my wife and I opted for something a bit different: a nanny share. We were lucky that we had friends living down the block with a baby only six weeks younger than ours. So we joined together, hired a nanny, and began a wonderful two years of shared childcare. The benefits were obvious — better socialization for the kids, significant cost savings, and the partnership of another set of parents on the usual challenges of raising young kids.
This kind of communal arrangement can be life-altering and is enabled by the density of urban hubs — sharing childcare would’ve been much more difficult in a car-dependent suburb. But urban social structures aren’t built to enable such arrangements: the oft-discussed anonymity and loneliness experienced in one’s 20s translates into sparse communities for raising children in one’s 30s and 40s. As a newcomer to a city, befriending other families in a typical New York or San Francisco rental apartment building is far more difficult than it should be.
At Common, we have a moral imperative to address this. To that end, we are excited to announce Kin, a joint venture between Common and Tishman Speyer. Kin is bringing the ethos of coliving to an urban residential product custom-designed with families in mind. At Kin, community is at the core, with the product designed to encourage sharing the joy and burden of raising children. With built-in shared childcare, programmed playspaces, and frequent family-oriented events, we are thrilled to push the boundaries of the roles and responsibilities of a residential operator.
As a best-in-class developer, Tishman Speyer is the perfect partner for this program. Since getting to know Rob Speyer, Jeff Mandel, and their team over a year ago, we have developed a shared vision for creating a better, friendlier residential product designed with families in mind. We are excited to pilot Kin at Tishman Speyer properties starting with their ground-up development at Jackson Park in Long Island City, Queens this year.
As a designer and operator of places people live, we have a unique opportunity to improve the lives of families in cities around the world. We are excited to tackle this head-on on our journey to build an enduring residential company and brand.