ADUs: Housing Options for a Growing Region

Feb 2019

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also called granny flats or backyard cottages, are a unique housing form created by individual homeowners and scattered throughout neighborhoods. They are adjacent or attached to a primary home and have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living area. 

As the region’s shortage of affordable housing worsens, ADUs present a flexible, neighborhood-scale solution to our housing needs. They tend to be affordable, environmentally friendly, supportive of the local economy, and add value to existing lots. If ADUs became as common in the Twin Cities as they are in Portland, OR (about 1.5% of single-family lots), the region would create 11,000 new housing units. 

Local government policies can make a critical difference in whether ADUs can reach their full potential for communities. Family Housing Fund has compiled a list of best practices from peer cities related to removing regulatory barriers, lowering costs, increasing access to capital, and increasing access to information on ADUs. When Austin, TX changed policy to allow larger ADUs and reduced other requirements, ADU permit requests rose nearly tenfold. 

What are ADU policies across Twin Cities municipalities? Take a look at this list.

How do homeowners build ADUs? Learn more in our ADU Guidebook.

Accessory Dwelling Units, Housing Policy
Who is it for?
Policy Makers

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