Thousands apply for 15 spots in ADU housing pilot

Homeowners could get up to $395K in financing to add secondary residences

Thousands Apply for New York’s ADU Housing Pilot
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. (City of New York, Getty)

Granny flat, anyone?

More than 1,300 homeowners applied in the first week of the city’s accessory dwelling unit pilot program, which will pick just 15 winners, the New York Daily News reported.

The “Plus One ADU” program uses grant funding from state agency Homes and Community Renewal to finance the addition of backyard cottages, garage studios, attached in-law suites, basement apartments, and attic space conversions, up to $395,000.

ADUs are seen as an easy way to add housing as they use little or no land and are within many homeowners’ financial means. While their minimal size can also limit community opposition, allowing them en masse can trigger fears of traffic, school overcrowding and other not-in-my-backyard issues. A statewide ADU plan failed to gain traction last spring.

The city’s pilot program is for demonstration purposes and by itself will have no impact on the housing shortage. The 15 homeowners selected will receive financing either through repayable or deferred, forgivable loans.

The objective is to fuel conversation about solutions to the housing shortage.

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“It’s really head-spinning … the appetite that’s out there for this,” Housing Preservation and Development commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. told the Daily News. “We can then think about where else do these opportunities exist? How quickly can we scale this up and add this to our toolbox of tools that we need to create affordable housing across the five boroughs?”

Of the five boroughs, the most applications have come from Queens, followed by the Bronx and Staten Island. Adding ADUs in Manhattan may not be feasible for the few homeowners with the space to do so. Detached structures such as backyard cottages and converted garages have been popular on the applications.

Applications for the program are open until February. Those selected will need to be in places where zoning allows for a granny flat. Zoning is one of the challenges of growing the housing stock: More than half of land in the five boroughs is zoned for low-density housing.

Another problem is the lack of action at the state level. Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul, citing legislators’ opposition, removed the teeth from her housing plan by dropping a controversial provision to let developers circumvent local governments that failed to hit housing targets.

Holden Walter-Warner

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