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SLO County non-profit sees Accessory Dwelling Units as potential growth area for affordable housing

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Homeowners often use ADUs for housing extra family members, live-in caregivers or renters to provide extra income.

Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, are secondary residences generally added to already existing properties. ADUs can be completely separate units that are detached from the house or built into a spare bedroom or garage in the existing structure.

Homeowners often use them for housing extra family members, live-in caregivers or renters to provide extra income.

Now, a San Luis Obispo County non-profit is encouraging local ADU construction as a potential for affordable housing.

Celeste Goyer is the Executive Director for SmartShare Housing Solutions. She said recent legislation in California has eased restrictions on homeowners looking to build ADUs as a way to address housing availability.

She said the non-profit recently partnered with the Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative to launch a program called ADU SLO that is designed to help homeowners through the process of building an affordable Accessory Dwelling Unit.

Anyone interested in building an affordable ADU can get a free feasibility site visit from SmartShare as well as design and build help. Once the ADU is built, the non-profit will help link the homeowner with potential tenants.

Goyer said they have conducted 14 site visits so far with one project moving forward in San Luis Obispo. She said these ADUs could help alleviate the ongoing housing crisis on the Central Coast.

“Everyone you talk to, either family or friends, everyone knows someone who is affected by not being able to find housing they can afford,” Goyer said. “A vast majority of residents in SLO County spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Affordability is considered 30 percent.”

Goyer said this crisis prevents businesses from finding employees, causes people to move away and affects general health and quality of life.

“It’s not acceptable. It’s not sustainable. And it’s a big issue.”

Some ADU opponents say these units could create parking problems, decrease property values and lead to overcrowding.

But Goyer said the impact of ADU development could be a huge benefit for SLO County.

“The total anticipated ADU production for the county is 3,255 units from now to 2028,” Goyer said. “That’s a lot of houses. That’s a lot of homes. Now, they’re not all going to be affordable. But we think that 1,628 will be low-income affordable in that time period.”

SmartShare hopes to partner with local city councils and the county Board of Supervisors to make the process of ADU development easier.

The non-profit is hosting a virtual summit on August 26th to discuss the state of ADUs in SLO County and make recommendations about how to move forward. Members of the public are welcome to attend.