Making the Case for ADUs and Housing Equity

For Montgomery County in Maryland, accessory dwelling units are a viable strategy to help ease the affordable housing crisis.

1 minute read

August 21, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By Camille Fink

Accessory Dwelling Unit

radcliffe dacanay / Flickr

"Allowing more accessory apartments doesn’t overhaul zoning a la Minneapolis or Oregon, but provides a first step towards allowing a mix of compatible residential uses in single-family zones. It also starts a larger conversation about how we can provide more inclusive neighborhoods for those who are currently left out," writes Jane Lyons.

She examines more closely the potential of accessory dwelling units in Montgomery County in Maryland, where home prices and rents are high and the majority of the county is zoned for single-family homes. Additional ADUs mean more affordable, sustainable housing in the area.

"Every accessory apartment built on an existing lot in Silver Spring or Bethesda is a new home where infrastructure already exists, rather than in a greenfield farther out that would require new roads, schools, sewers, and water and the destruction of forests and farmland," notes Lyons.

Lyons adds that the county needs to simplify the process for designing, building, and financing ADUs, and it needs to partner with organizations that can support interested homeowners. “None of these initiatives would make a difference if a large swath of homes were barred from building an accessory apartment in the first place. That’s why updating zoning to allow for more accessory apartments was such an important move."

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