Why Sharing May Save Cities

Photo by Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

Why do we care?

According to the UN, 55% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. By 2040 the San Francisco Bay Area is projected to add 2.1 million people, increasing total regional population from 7.2 million to 9.3 million, an increase of 30 percent.

Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash

The consequences are straight forward: housing prices skyrocket — 39% of households are now considered cost burdened in the SF-Oakland area, which means that they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. Under this demographic pressure, cities are looking at ways to build more housing units. Sure, it will help reduce rents, but these new units will be located further and further away from the core center, with less job opportunities and higher transportation costs — which is bearly imaginable given the current nightmare that residents experience with commute.

Housing affordability is by definition the ratio of the rent by the income. As long as we keep ignoring the second piece of the equation, we are not building a sustainable model for housing affordability. That’s why residents seek for alternative and creative ways to make additional revenue.

Welcome to the gig work era

Photo by Lucas Lenzi on Unsplash

Sharing your car on Turo, GetAround, your bed on AirBnB, your guitar on Sparkplug,… nothing is suprising anymore — the gig revolution is on.

Now, I have to say there’s something I can’t wrap my head around. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Housing is the number one expense of US households. We all work hard all day to pay off rents and mortgages. How many hours is my living room empty during the day? Today, we pay full rents for a home that stays empty 60 to 90% of the time. Isn’t it the most valuable asset that you have which is completely underutilized? You can do it for your car, why not your living room?

The decentralized reality of work

Flexible work is experiencing an unprecedented rise: telecommuters have more than doubled since 2005, representing 32,400 homeworkers in San Francisco. More than one in three US workers — 53 million Americans — are freelancers, and the number is expected to reach 40% of the US workforce by 2020.

Where do these people work from? Many coffee shops are switching off their WiFi and covering power sources to avoid customers staying only for services coffee shops don’t make money on. Coworking spaces still involve commuting to one central building every day… wasn’t that called office space? The flexible workplace is fairly limited today. Of course, you can work alone from home on a daily basis. It’s common knowledge now that this isolated lifestyle has negative effects on happiness, health, and productivity. See this funny article from the NewYorker.

What we sometimes call the Future of Work is very much already present. The workforce is very much decentralized but the workplace has not followed — yet. Imagine your kids working remotely in ten years. What if the sharing economy meets remote workers?

Coworking to the People

Some private coworking companies have been recently valued millions of dollars. We believe this value can and should be distributed across neighborhoods: to its local residents, workers , businesses. That’s why we are building hīven, a network of home-based coworking opportunities. It’s a platform for sharing those resources at the neighborhood scale.

Hīven allows you to be more focused and balanced by having other people around and offering a wide variety of places within a bike trip. It connects you to an amazing community of local professionals. For hosts, hīven sparks some energy and joy in their home, on the top of making extra money.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

By encouraging people to stay in their neighborhoods, hīven wants to revitalize the local economy, partner with local businesses and help the whole neighborhood thrive. AirBnB has been highly criticized because it hurts long-term residency and may disrupt neighborhoods. Hīven is made for and by local residents. We just want to bring coworking and wellness back to the people. Let’s keep sharing city dwellers!

If you like our mission, please get in touch with us at team@hiven.me.