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California looks to convert empty garages into living spaces

By Mike Wheatley | October 18, 2019

A number of U.S. states are considering easing zoning requirements to allow for more accessory dwelling units to be built as a way of relieving chronic housing shortages, the New York Times reported.

California, which faces a massive housing shortage, is actively pursuing the idea of freeing up more space for so-called ADUs, otherwise known as “granny flats”. California’s housing shortage is no joke, with a recent report from the California Housing Partnership saying that the state needs to build at least 1.4 million more affordable rental homes to meet its people’s housing needs. As such, lawmakers in the state have been relaxing zoning laws to allow more building of ADUs, which include garage conversions, backyard cottages and apartments tacked onto an existing home.

Even state Governor Gavin Newsom has got in on the act, signing a law earlier this year that urges more construction of ADUs.

Now, some building firms are stepping up to help. One project being promoted is United Dwelling, which works by entering into a partnership with homeowners and paying for their garage conversions. Once the garage has been converted into a living area, United Dwelling manages the rental process and splits the rent with the homeowner. The company collected a $1 million grant from Los Angeles County to grow its business in the area.

ADUs aren’t just a way for homeowners to generate an extra income though, as they’re also useful for young adults or aging parents who need to move in with their families, but retain some independence at the same time. In addition, housing experts say ADUs can help to provide more affordable housing options to low-income people.

Still, one common complaint regarding affordable housing has been the impact to neighboring properties, including having more people living on one property and street parking issues.

“While nonprofit housing developers prioritize multifamily developments, we support ADUs as one of many tools that can help address our housing crisis, given the staggering deficit of units across California for people of all incomes,” Alan Greenlee, executive director of the Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, told the Times. “Notably, ADUs can help achieve greater density of units in neighborhoods that are primarily zoned for single-family homes.”

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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