Aldermen to discuss accessory dwelling units

An accessory dwelling unit designed by Austin, Texas, based McKinney York Architects.

Continuing their review of options for creating more affordable housing in Evanston, aldermen Monday are scheduled to discuss how the city might take further steps to encourage development of accessory dwelling units.

ADUs are defined as independent housing units created within single-family homes or on their lots.

A report from the Public Policy Institute of AARP says they can provide a valuable addition to a community's housing stock and help older homeowners maintain their independence by providing additional income to offset tax and maintenance costs.

The concept has caught on in a range of communities -- including Austin, TexasMinneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon.

Aldermen last week took steps to legalize one type of accessory dwelling unit -- the coach house -- in Evanston, but city staff will ask Monday for approval to begin a comprehensive review of how to further expand ADUs to address the city's housing needs.

The staff notes that the average household size is shrinking while the total number of households is growing and that much of Evanston's housing stock was built to accommodate the larger family sizes more common a half-century or more ago.

And the staff, in a memo, suggests that ADUs could integrate affordable housing in high cost, primarily single-family neighborhoods and increase density without requiring construction of new infrastructure or changing the character of neighborhoods.

The AARP report includes a model ordianace on accessory dwelling units, which the staff memo suggests could serve as a guide for adopting new regulations in Evanston.

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