How much does it cost for bare minimum accommodations in San Francisco—i.e, a bed and a roof?
In the Tenderloin, that’ll be $60 per night, or $1,200 per month. That’s what the Southern California-based startup Podshare charges for one of its “pods” at the company’s first San Francisco locale.
According to the company, “A pod is a hand-built, high-end bunk bed complete with your own flat screen TV and night light.”
Renting with Podshare buys access to the bed and the communal spaces in the building in what’s essentially a hostel-like setup—complete with a dearth of privacy thanks to the wide open, multi-pod layout of rooms Podshare offers.
Vice reported on Podshare’s launch in 2012, the product of a father-daughter entrepreneurial pairing who say that their customers are single people who want a space to “focus on their startups and experience something new.”
Podshare cofounder Elvina Beck tells Curbed SF that staying in a “pod” is a way for renters to “experience a neighborhood or community before pulling the trigger on a longer term lease.”
The San Francisco expansion is the company’s first outside of Southern California. Along with Venice (also $60 per night), SF ranks as the most expensive “pod” estate.
Podshare’s Airbnb listing for the city promises “co-living [...] in the middle of downtown at Post and Hyde, behind a gate,” with 12 beds included.
“We all sleep in the same room but have three floors of breakout rooms,” according to the ad.
Socketsite, which first clocked the Podshares expansion into SF, identifies the building as being located on Post Street.
The ad says that it costs $1,500 to rent a pod for a full month. However, Beck tells Curbed SF that the price should actually be $1,200.
Beck also says that, despite the advertising, Podshare is not yet offering $60 per-night rentals in SF for fear of running afoul of the city’s laws about short-term rentals.
“We’ve sent proof to the city that we have no short-term Airbnb guests,” says Beck.
The dystopian implications of renting what’s little more than an enclosed bed for $1,200 per month are hard to miss. According to the U.S. Census, the median rent in the country for all types of units was just over $1,000 in 2017.
Unsurprisingly, Podshare’s marketing materials try to put a brave face on the setup, branding it as part of a Millennial lifestyle:
The future is “access not ownership” so we are establishing “access points.” [...] Millennials don’t own a gym at home, they buy a membership. We don’t subscribe to cable television, we watch Netflix. We don’t buy CDs, we stream music. American car sales are on the decline because we Lyft or Uber. We can rent a bicycle, get a degree online, have our meals delivered to us, and document our entire lives on social media.
Beck defends the company saying, “I never understood the dystopian comments about our floor layout. We are simply one choice amongst of sea of many choices. This is how we choose to live.”
For the sake of comparison, right now Craigslist lists 27 single bedroom or studio apartments in the Tenderloin, ranging from $2,695 per month down to $965 for an SRO, the latter of which is the only space available for less than $1,200.
Hotpads lists 40 homes in SF renting for $1,200 or less, but of those only four are full units on their own.