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How DC's New Accessory Dwelling Program Will Work

  • March 15th

by Nena Perry-Brown

Pre-approved ADU schematic, courtesy of Ileana Schinder Architecture. Click to enlarge.

In the five years since DC updated the city's zoning code to make clear a path for homeowners to create accessory dwelling units (ADU), the practice still has yet to catch on due to things like high costs and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Now, the city is aiming to broaden access to ADU construction.

Last week, DC's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released a Request for Applications (RFA) seeking an entity to administer a Residential Accessory Apartments Program (RAAP). The RAAP is meant to inform and assist homeowners in getting ADUs, or secondary living units, built within the footprint of their home or in a detached building on their property.

The pilot program will target at least 15 homeowners over the next fiscal year and will dole out maximum assistance on a sliding scale based on income level. For example, homeowners earning up to 80% of median family income (MFI) would receive $75,000, homeowners earning between 81%-100% of MFI would receive $56,250 and so on. No DHCD assistance will be provided for homeowners earning above 150% of MFI.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) will also provide five of the selected homeowners with $30,000, regardless of income, if they either choose to use one of the agency's pre-approved architectural plan sets or submit their architectural plans for DCRA to add to its pre-approved sets.

For homeowners who earn over 120% of MFI and receive either financial or technical assistance through the program, their ADU will be subject to a 10-year affordability covenant requiring any tenant they rent to earn no more than 60% of MFI. Units with the covenant would then be rented via the city's Inclusionary Zoning lottery. 

Despite accessory dwellings being by-right for the 92,000 homes in DC's R- and RF- zoned neighborhoods, according to the city, fewer than 50 ADUs are approved annually. The RAAP is expected to launch this fall.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how-dcs-new-accessory-dwelling-pilot-program-will-work/19388.

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