Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are smaller, independent residential units located on the same lot as a single-family home. ADUs can be internal – converted portions of existing homes, attached – additions to homes, or detached – stand alone structures. ADUs in Denver double density, promote mixed-income housing, preserve primary homes, and tap into the existing network of streets and utilities. This report examines the preconditions of an ADU movement such as the affordable housing crisis, high land values, role of zoning regulations, design standards, and access to capital. The impact of this housing type and their associated policies are commonly misunderstood but provide an opportunity to create more housing inventory while mitigating displacement.
The focus of this ADU Report was to further explore and identify whether ADUs can be an affordable tool for moderate to low-income families in the Denver metro area while mitigating displacement. Throughout this project conversations were had with citywide stakeholders who understand the value of ADUs as a tool to address the housing crisis while stabilizing homeowners to varying degrees.
This comes at a time when neighborhood leaders of often high-income areas are pursuing zoning changes to allow for ADUs which in turn helps the construction and use of ADUs to be more affordable. This report evaluates how these preconditions, along with community understanding and political will, could drive a transformative systems change in Denver’s land use and housing policy.
Photo rendering from the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative website.