Accessory Dwelling Units
ADUs: A Simple Solution to a Growing Problem
Surveys consistently show that the vast majority of people age 50 or over want to remain in their homes as they age. We also know from surveys by AARP and others that a majority of Americans prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods that offer a mix of housing and transportation options, and are close to jobs, schools, shopping, entertainment and parks. These preferences — coupled with the rapid aging of the United States’ population overall and decrease in households with children — will continue to boost the demand for smaller homes in more compact neighborhoods.
An Accessory Dwelling Units (“ADUs”) is a small house or apartment that exists on the same property lot as a single- family residence. ADUs will play a major role in serving a national housing need. This traditional home type is reemerging as an affordable and flexible housing option that meets the needs of older adults and young families alike. In fact, in the 2018 AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey, people age 50-plus who would consider creating an ADU said they’d do so to:
• provide a home for a loved one in need of care (84%)
• provide housing for relatives or friends (83%)
• have a space for guests (69%)
• increase the value of their home (67%)
• feel safer by having someone living nearby (64%)
• create a place for a caregiver to stay (60%)
• earn extra income from renting to a tenant (53%)
In 2013, the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee (SCAC) conducted a comprehensive survey of 800 older residents. 74% of the respondents confirmed that they wanted to remain in Montclair as they aged but that high taxes were a serious impediment to their remaining here. Since ADUs make use of the existing infrastructure and housing stock, they’re also a potential income source to older residents who own homes and a revenue generator for the Township. ADU’s are environmentally friendly and respectful of a neighborhood’s space and style. An increasing number of towns, cities, counties and even states have been adapting their zoning or housing laws to make it easier for homeowners to create ADUs.
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Unfortunately, the advantages of ADUs have long been effectively denied to Montclair homeowners by restrictive zoning regulations and building code requirements designed to discourage their construction. Here, too, there is a movement underway to reform these policies and permit us to exercise our rights as property owners. Legislation is pending before the Town Council, and we urge you to let your Council member know that you support it.
An ADU is good for you!