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Last updated: 12/14/17

Additional Dwelling Unit Pilot

We want to streamline the process for homeowners looking to create a rental unit.

The goal of the program is to develop more affordable housing while creating rental income for homeowners. We want homeowners to take advantage of the existing space in their homes. We also are looking to prevent further displacement in the City.

BOSTON, MA 02108-2501

Why we did this

Two top priorities for Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston include:

  • lowering the cost of living in Boston, and
  • preventing displacement.

We think we can address both priorities through our pilot. Owner occupants can carve out space in their home to create a smaller rental unit. Those looking for an apartment gain more options. Homeowners stretched thin by the cost of living in Boston gain income.

The experiment

We want to see if these units will increase affordable housing options in the City. We hope to create safe living environments and support family arrangements. We also hope this will help aging homeowners remain in their homes. Based on the results of the pilot, we’ll find out the impact these units have on affordability and displacement. We’ll also get a better idea of the impact of expanding the program.

Working out the ZONING kinks

We crafted the zoning language for the pilot with the help of the Boston Planning & Development Agency. The agency's board approved the language, and the Mayor signed off on the language in November 2017. An Additional Dwelling Unit Pilot, as defined for this pilot is:

One self-contained, non-transient residential living unit providing complete independent living facilities incorporated entirely within the footprint of the existing, owner occupied residential structure.

Additional Dwelling Unit Toolkit

As part of this program, we are developing an Additional Dwelling Unit Toolkit. It will be a guide for interested homeowners who would like to build their own additional unit. We’ll walk homeowners through the permitting, design, financing, and construction processes. We want to make sure all interested and eligible homeowners can take advantage of this pilot. We plan to release the toolkit in January 2018.

Additional Dwelling Unit Loan program

We also plan to offer limited financial support to homeowners looking to build an Additional Dwelling Unit. A zero-interest, deferred equity loan up to $30,000 will be available for eligible homeowners through the Boston Home Center.

Results and lessons learned

Stay tuned! The pilot will run from November 2017 - April 2018. We’re sure there will be plenty that comes out of this experiment.