Governor Polis visits Habitat-built ADU to learn about creative housing solutions

In September, Colorado Governor Jared Polis toured an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) constructed by Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver in partnership with Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and West Denver Renaissance Collaborative (WDRC.) 

Habitat and WDRC led a tour of an 864-square-foot, three-bedroom ADU that will be rented at an affordable rate. As the need for affordable housing intensifies in Denver and statewide, Governor Polis and his team are touring models like this one to see the impacts of affordable home solutions in person. 

  ADUs, also referred to as casitas, carriage homes, or granny flats, are built on existing residential lots, and they are a powerful tool to provide additional affordable housing options in existing residential neighborhoods. Many homeowners are interested in building ADUs on their property to house extended family, such as their older grandparents or adult children. 

“Over 19,000 households across west and southwest Denver are ‘doubled-up’ meaning that families are living with multiple generations in one home out of necessity, ” said WDRC director Renee Martinez Stone during the tour. “ADUs provide a solution where families can have the space they need – and stay close together.”

Homeowners can also build ADUs to rent the space affordably to another tenant and generate supplementary income. The income from renting an ADU can be a cushion against financial upsets or to help a homeowner pay their mortgage, cover housing expenses, and pay property taxes. This can be especially impactful for households living on limited or fixed incomes.  

“This is a program that allows you to kill two birds with one stone,” said Yoseph Assefa, the owner of the ADU toured by Governor Polis. Assefa is planning to rent the ADU to a tenant in the near future, but eventually, he hopes that his mom will move into the space. “This will allow us as homeowners to increase our equity and increase our income, but also help somebody that needs stability.” 

Habitat Metro Denver has partnered with DHA and WDRC to find local families who are interested in these opportunities. Habitat serves as the contractor and builder of the ADUs. 

The ADU program has built 14 ADUs, stabilized 28 families, and provided technical support and financial counseling to many others preparing to finance a future ADU build. All participants to date built with the intent to house family, though this is not a program requirement.  

ADUs built include studio, 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units, and the average rent for an ADU is $800.00, meeting a deeply affordable price point for renters. These below-market prices are made possible through a range of partners, including Habitat Metro Denver, Denver’s Department of Housing and Stability, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs, Denver Water, and local lenders working to innovate ADU financing.