Why are these L.A. people sleeping in stacked pods? It’s not just the cost of housing

$1,000 for glorified bunk beds.

The other evening, I visited Eddy, a new co-living complex in Hollywood. Tucked away on a residential block that used to be all bungalows, it has the styling of a hip boutique hotel. People carry branded metal water bottles that say “Live. Dream. Connect.” The gym has a Peloton bike. Butterfly chairs encircle the backyard fire pit. In the co-working space, from a vending machine, you can grab a grain bowl or overnight oats.

Each of Eddy’s four-bedroom furnished apartments has a gleaming kitchen with a big island and professional-grade stainless steel appliances. In the spacious living room, the custom-made sectional is deep, perfect for sinking into for a movie on the large flat-screen TV. For rents that top out per person at $945 a month, the luxe of it all seems astounding.

But here’s the catch: Each single-sex unit is designed to accommodate 18 men or 18 women. Each diminutive bedroom with its private bathroom: four to six adults in small, stacked rectangular spaces called “pods” just wide enough for a mattress and high enough to sit but not stand on top of it.

They reminded me of the sleeping berths you might find in a luxury railway car or a rock band’s touring bus.

I crawled into one to get a feel.

At my feet was a privacy curtain. And while, from the sheets to wall safe to mattress to noise-muffling ceiling fan, the space was comfy and well-outfitted, I felt the snugness of it and the nearness of the walls and I quickly had to crawl out.

Still, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t fit this type of housing’s prime demographic — single people in their 20s and 30s, relatively early on in their working lives.

Space-maximizing pod housing makes up a tiny part of the city’s overall housing mix, but it quietly is popping up in neighborhoods all around Los Angeles right now. It may well have moved in somewhere near you so discreetly that you don’t even know.

In the middle of an affordable housing crisis, it’s easy enough to understand why what was once aimed mostly at short stays — tourists, new transplants — is now also being taken up as a long-term housing option.

But headlines tend to emphasize space versus cost — sometimes more than $1,000 for glorified bunk beds. And if you stop right there and roll your eyes and say, “For that price why not rent a private room with a door?,” I think you might miss some of what is driving this kind of communal living.

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