March 9, 2022
by: AIA New York
Illustration depicting different types of Accessory Dwelling Units, including: Detached Unit, Attached Unit, Interior Upper Level Unit, Interior Lower Level Unit, Above Garage Unit, Garage Conversion.
Types of accessory dwelling units. Image: Joiedevivre123321 via Wikimedia Commons.

The national housing shortage has led to a spike in home prices, particularly in high-demand urban and suburban areas. To increase the supply of housing, policymakers have turned to more innovative solutions, including the legalization of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ADUs are units that are either attached or detached to an existing home on a single lot, including garage apartments, basement apartments, in-law suites, casitas, and other types of housing.

Throughout the New York metro region, ADUs are gaining greater legal permissibility. Connecticut recently legalized ADUs statewide, and Princeton, New Jersey has done the same at the city level. In New York State, there are multiple efforts to legalize ADUs. Among the most notable are S4547/A4854, a bill that would legalize ADUs statewide, and Gov. Hochul’s budget proposal to legalize ADUs in New York City.

Proponents of ADUs argue that legalizing them would go far towards reducing inequality. With housing prices skyrocketing statewide, they are a relatively quick and affordable way to increase housing supply. Furthermore, most of the income earned from ADUs would be gained by existing homeowners, who could benefit from additional sources of revenue. This is particularly true for New Yorkers aging in place on fixed incomes who could monetize their properties.

However, as the push for ADUs has gained strength, so has the opposition. Most of the pushback has come from suburban lawmakers, particularly on Long Island. Democrat and Republican elected officials rallied against Hochul’s earlier budget proposal to legalize ADUs statewide, forcing her to amend the provision to legalize ADUs only in New York City.

AIA New York has joined a statewide coalition to legalize ADUs. Our members are working with advocates to ensure that whichever proposal forges ahead ensures ADUs are safe for their residents. This is particularly pressing for the countless New Yorkers who live illegal ADUs, often in dangerous conditions. We will keep our members updated as these various proposals move forward in Albany.


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