Should ADUs Count as Affordable Housing?

Without regulations or monitoring systems to ensure accessory dwelling units are rented at affordable rates, citing ADU construction toward affordable housing goals is a disingenuous way to avoid building multi-family housing.

1 minute read

June 21, 2023, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Rendering of shipping container-like ADU unit pre-approved by the city of Los Angeles

Los Angeles and other California cities have created sets of pre-approved ADU designs, like the one above, to streamline the process and lower permitting costs for homeowners. | Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety / ADU design pre-approved by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are often touted as one solution for the affordable housing crisis, allowing homeowners to gain extra income and provide housing for family members or tenants while maintaining the relatively low density of a residential neighborhood. Recent legislation has led to a spike in ADU permit applications in California, where the housing crisis has hit low-income tenants the hardest.

But should an ADU that will likely be used as a pricy short-term rental count toward a city’s affordable housing goals? Writing in The Real Deal, Steven Dilakian reveals that some wealthy Bay Area towns “lan to meet as much as 80 percent of their housing targets through accessory dwelling units.”

According to a report from a civil grand jury in San Mateo County, “this is a problem” because there is no regulation mandating that ADUs be made available or affordable to low-income renters. “The grand jury recommended that city councils stop using ADUs to meet state-mandated affordable housing targets until they have effective monitoring systems.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2023 in The Real Deal

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