The housing shortage on America’s West Coast is a major problem, forcing many people to live in dangerous conditions (like unpermitted apartments, their cars, or even the streets).
The Los Angeles Times reports that California needs 1.7 million new affordable rental homes. In fact, making housing more available and affordable has been a major talking point for Governor Gavin Newsom during his campaign and his first year in office.
As Newsom recently told CBS News, “We have a homeless crisis in California. We need to address it as a crisis.”
While homelessness is a complicated issue, it simply cannot be solved without a major increase in affordable housing. So, in the interest of making housing more accessible, East Bay cities like Hayward are looking for creative solutions.
One of the best is accessory dwelling units, often called “ADUs,” “backyard cottages,” “granny flats”, or “guest houses.” (There are a lot of names out there. We prefer “ADU” or “accessory dwelling.”)
Steps Toward Change in Hayward
The Hayward City Council met in mid-January to discuss the city’s housing situation. During the meeting, the topic of ADUs generated a lot of discussion.
The council members agreed that more ADUs would be beneficial, but several raised questions and concerns, including equal access, parking, traffic, and recent changes to state law.
Despite concerns, the city leaders are moving in the right direction. Deputy City Manager Jennifer Ott hopes to address the council with a plan in February. It remains to be seen whether her plan will include ADUs, but the council’s interest is promising.
Accessory Dwellings are a Multi-Level Solution
From basement ADUs to backyard cottages to attic apartments, ADUs are a solution that works on multiple levels. (Pun intended.)
If you’re a homeowner with an unfinished basement, why not finish that basement into an ADU? You’ll bring in rental income for yourself while providing much-needed housing to someone else.
If you’ve got an unused garage in your backyard, why not replace it with a gorgeous backyard cottage? It can be affordable housing for a young couple while they get on their feet, and you’ll bring in thousands of dollars a month in rental income, so the project will pay for itself.
If you’re an older homeowner with adult children, you can put in an ADU and let your kids move in with you; you’ll save money while helping your family live better (and doing your part to decrease the strain on the local housing supply).
Because they add housing, ADUs benefit renters. Because monthly rental income pays for an ADU in just a few years, homeowners benefit as well. The whole community gets a boost when ADUs are part of the equation.
Kudos to Hayward (and all the ADU-friendly cities out there)
We’ll keep an eye on Hayward, but we think it’s promising.
Congratulations to all the West Coast cities moving toward ADU-friendly legislation. You’re making a difference in addressing the housing crisis and in fighting homelessness.
More access to housing.
Better lives for homeowners and renters.
There is hope for housing, after all.