Chicago ADUs Concentrated in More Affluent Neighborhoods

An analysis of city-issued permits shows that homeowners in gentrified wards are building accessory dwelling units at much higher rates than those in less well-off communities.

2 minute read

September 18, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


In an evaluation of Chicago’s accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program, “The city’s Housing Department ran the data and found, at this early stage, the program is working in some ways but is challenged in others. It might just be adding expensive units in already expensive neighborhoods.”

As David Roeder reports for the Chicago Sun-Times, The program began as an experiment in “gently” expanding the housing supply to lower rents and create a revenue source for families. The city found that the program has not made an impact in neighborhoods with many vacant lots, nor are ADUs technically permitted to operate as short-term rental units to assuage concerns about transient occupancy. 

According to the analysis, “83% of the approved units are slated to go in zones on the North or Northwest sides,” the more affluent parts of the city. This means that “In places plagued by crime and disinvestment, little is happening with ADUs.”

According to Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara, the discrepancy comes as no surprise. “By itself, the program can’t do much about longstanding inequity in real estate. Owners with greater disposable incomes are investing in the units while being in a high-rent area creates an incentive to build.” And while the city has made some grants available for ADU projects, Steven Vance of the Chicago Cityscape real estate information service says it could do more to support ADU construction for homeowners who can’t afford the upfront costs.

Monday, September 5, 2022 in Chicago Sun-Times

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