Closing the Homeownership Knowledge Gap

An Oakland program geared at Black homeowners wants to empower households to understand the opportunities in building and renting accessory dwelling units.

2 minute read

August 29, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Victorian homes in Oakland, California

Radoslaw Lecyk / Homes in Oakland, California

An Oakland program aims to empower Black homeowners to understand the value of their property and whether and how to build and rent accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Marielle Argueza reports on the program for Next City.

Started in October 2021, Keys to Equity seeks to fight an “insidious legacy of structurally racist real-estate practices in communities of color: lack of basic education about what it means to own property.” According to Argueza,  “While there are many benefits to building an ADU, BIPOC homeowners are less likely to reap those benefits. A report out this month from UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation surveyed 32 BIPOC homeowners and found that the process from start (securing the funds to build) to finish (becoming a landlord) is significantly more difficult and daunting for homeowners of color than it is for white homeowners, in large part because of a lack of regulatory oversight from cities who are just now implementing ordinances around ADUs.”

The report found that “In particular, sources of finance and technical assistance are needed, and local governments must begin to simplify and lower the cost of obtaining an ADU permit so that permitting itself does not remain a barrier to equitable ADU adoption.”

The Keys to Equity program will lead 70 homeowners through the process of planning, financing, and building an ADU. “Though the program is still in its initial iteration, they hope to eventually expand into a related area: working with homeowners to rehab existing ADUs that aren’t up to building codes.”

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