“We wanted to create an atmosphere where you are welcome and can be whatever you want to be… without preconceived ideas,” Pratap James, co-founder of D’Kommunitee Living Spaces, clearly explains why he thought of creating a co-working space. -living for the LGBTQ+ Community.
James, a queer man himself, says he has seen members of the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination while looking for homes, or even be outright denied housing. D’Kommunitee Living Spaces wants to make sure that every person, especially same-sex and transgender couples, are able to secure a roof over their heads.
“If you look different, society or neighbors have hundreds of questions. If you get housing, there are unspoken standards that you have to strictly follow like act a certain way, wear a certain way,” James says of the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community.
Founded by Ankith Narayan, Murari Kumar Raja and Pratap James, Hyderabad-based D’Kommunitee Living Spaces is billed as India’s first co-living space for the LGBTQ+ community. For James, it’s more of an “initiative than a product”. “We want to make sure it’s inclusive and not exclusive, so everyone can stick together,” he explains. The larger message is that “we can live together and we can live harmoniously”.
The concept of co-living space is not new in India, but a dedicated shelter for the LGBTQ+ community is something new. D’Kommunitee Living Spaces aims to provide more affordable living space for members of the LGBTQ+ community by renting private rooms or an entire apartment but with shared common areas such as a kitchen and a common hangout space. You can rent a room if you are single or share it with your partner; all you have to do is pack your bags and go to the accommodation after all the necessary checks. The business aims to provide furnished rooms, as well as cleaning services and community events.
James says the company plans to lease a five-storey building from Ayyappa Company in Hyderabad which can accommodate up to 150 people. The fees vary from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. Depending on the rent, you can opt for a single room or share the room with someone. People can rent a room through the company’s website or app.
The company does not intend to offer short-stay options as the business model is entirely based on long-stay options between three months and up to one year.
Co-living spaces like D’Kommunitee Living Spaces offer more freedom and privacy to tenants of other accommodations. Renters are allowed to come and go at any time, but rules will be in place. “If someone wants to live for one night, I don’t think it should be entertained,” James said. “Anyone who enters the premises will have to validate themselves at the entry and exit points.”
The growing number of Covid-19 cases in the country has delayed plans to start operations, but once things are somewhat normal, James and his team will begin the process of renting the building and hiring staff from support. The founders have invested their money in the project, but there are plans to raise capital in the market to expand the project. “If we are successful in Hyderabad, we will move to Bangalore and other Indian cities,” he said.
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