WakeUP asks Raleigh to support “Granny Flats” as new housing option

Posted by | 0 comments

The need for affordable housing was the hot topic of Raleigh City Council elections this fall. Likewise, this year Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes led an affordable housing committee comprised of experts, civic leaders, and advocates charged with developing an action plan for increasing affordable housing for people on a range of income levels. One recommendation of Wake’s Affordable Housing Plan (approved by the Wake County Commission in October) is permitting Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), commonly known as “granny flats” or “backyard cottages” in our cities. ADUs are small housing units located on the property of a single family home usually lived in by relatives, such as older in-laws or young adults. AARP recommends ADUs as a way to let seniors age in place and remain part of neighborhoods. Also, taxpayers would not foot the bill for ADUs (since private homeowners would) while most affordable housing is taxpayer subsidized.

WakeUP recently worked with ten organizations and many local businesses to encourage Raleigh’s City Council to act now to permit ADUs. The issue has been sitting in the City Council this year with debate over whether to include an overlay district requirement — meaning over 50% of a neighborhood must sign a petition agreeing to permit ADUs. WakeUP and others asked Council to approve ADUs without the overlay district because the Affordable Housing Plan recommended against it because it makes it very challenging for residents to create this new affordable housing option. All other major NC cities permit ADUs and none require the overlay district.

Why the urgency for affordable housing now? One fourth of Wake households are “housing challenged,” meaning they are spending more than a third of household income on housing. Rising property values and rents in the last few years are making housing that is affordable for working people harder to find. Wake is losing more affordable housing than is being built. The Raleigh Council voted 5-3 AGAINST taking action now on ADUs. So WakeUP will work with the new City Council on promoting ADUs.

Learn more about affordable housing here.