Accessory Dwelling Units Help Ease Housing Shortage

AARP brings model unit to Capitol Campus

Olympia, WA – Recently, visitors in Olympia may have noticed a curious sight in our State Capitol’s backyard. In the shadow of the Legislative Building dome, AARP and housing advocates have set up a model Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) to help bring attention to a new legislative effort to support flexible housing options for people of all ages.

“ADUs can fill several roles, like providing a place for an aging parent to live instead of a nursing home,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington Advocacy Director. “ADUs can be used as living quarters for a caregiver or a relative who requires care, or for an adult child who may need to return home after college, has lost a job, or for one of many life-changing moments. ADUs can also be used for additional finances for someone on a fixed income.”

This session, AARP Washington is championing House Bill 1337, sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-33) and Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-2). HB 1337 approaches the housing crisis by reducing regulatory barriers for homeowners building affordable housing in their backyards. It is a common-sense, cost-effective approach that will make good use of existing property throughout the state while easing the housing crisis.

“We’ve got to reduce the cost to do that, and then of course have streamlined permitting processes so that once a family or a person wants to permit and build one, they’re not having to push through a ton of red tape and they can actually get the job done,” said Representative Gregerson.

According to AARP’s 2021 Home and Community Preference Survey:

  • 70% percent of adults 65+ would consider living in an ADU if they needed help with everyday activities
  • 62% of older adults would consider building an ADU for their loved ones, relatives, and friends.
  • 25% of those polled said they would create an ADU for a place for a caregiver to stay.

A Statista/AARP analysis of data available by United States Census Bureau (USCB), in 2023 more than 6000 older adults (aged 55+) are expected to be evicted and close to 7000 older adults (aged 55+) are expected to experience homelessness in 2023 in the state of Washington. HB 1337 would help ease the housing supply and lower the eviction and homelessness rate by providing affordable housing to the residents of Washington.

“It was a great opportunity to see a beautiful ADU, a home, here at the Capitol today. Thank you, AARP for arranging. Having the tour for legislators to see helps with our efforts on HB1337, the ADU bill, we are working on this session,” said Representative Barkis. “These homes are the quickest and some of the most affordable ways to get at increasing supply rapidly for the residents of Washington State.”

 “ADUs are a way to develop affordable housing, but many towns and cities still don’t have policies that make it easy to get planning approval,” said MacCaul. “To create more housing that is affordable and slow sprawl, we need to pass laws to remove restrictions that hinder such development.”

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