How to Bid High Housing Costs ADU

+ Brandon Fuller

The NYU Wagner Innovation Labs teamed up with the Center for an Urban Future to produce Innovation and the Citya useful new report for the next mayor of New York City. The report highlights 15 successful urban policy innovations from around the world that the next mayor could put to use in the Big Apple. My favorites include #9 — Chicago's budget savings commission — and #13 — Michigan's prize-linked savings accounts.

The most promising reform for New York is #12 — relaxing zoning restrictions to allow for accessory dwelling units and basement conversions.

By 2030, New York City is expected to add an additional 600,000 residents. The elderly will account for two-thirds of this growth. While these figures confirm New York’s increasing appeal and vitality, it raises important questions: Can New York’s housing market keep up with this growth and how will the city accommodate the growing number of seniors who wish to live near family members?Seattle’s experiment with Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) offers an intriguing solution. One and two family homes are permitted to build a self-contained residential structure on their lot, provided it does not exceed 800 square feet of interior area and covers no more than 40 percent of the rear yard. Seattle first piloted an Accessory Dwelling Unit program in 1994. Fifteen years later, its zoning code was officially amended to allow detached ADUs throughout the city.

The report notes that ADU permissions would have a particularly important impact on the housing supply in the outer buroughs, where one and two-family residences account for a substantial portion of the total lot area. ADUs would  provide attractive housing options for the elderly but, more importantly, they would make city-wide rents and prices more affordable by increasing the supply of housing. Here's hoping the next mayor follows Seattle's lead.

Tile image by Brett VA.

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