Aging in Place and ADUs

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In a 2018 survey conducted by Elevated Insights, 94% of older residents (60+) said they are likely or very likely to remain in El Paso County throughout retirement.  As our older population increases and decides to stay in Colorado Springs, we must find creative and resourceful options to fulfill their demand to age in place. A person can age in place and in community, when their housing options and community accommodate possible changes in ability, mobility, or physical and/or mental health.

Above all, we need to make our city more age friendly and accommodate people of all ages.  Anti-ageism activist, Ashton Applewhite, notes that “although they make up only 35 percent of the population, people over 50 contribute 43 percent of the total US GDP — a cool $7.4 trillion.”  Colorado Springs is well positioned to entice our residents to stay into retirement, but we need to encourage innovative options for aging in place.  One option that increases housing density and encourages aging in place is Accessory Dwelling Units.

What is an ADU?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit or an ADU is a secondary apartment on a residential lot or within the main home.  ADUs are often referred to as mother-in-law suites, granny flats, guest houses, etc.  They are beneficial because they increase housing density in an unobtrusive manner.  The height and size regulations, already required by the city mean an ADU will blend in with the existing house and neighborhood. Additionally, expanding the code to allow ADUs in single-family zones will increase and diversify the housing stock. These new, smaller units will ease the need for affordable housing and give people greater variety in their housing options.

How do ADUs help aging in place?

Accessory Dwelling Units advance aging in place because they encourage multi-generational living, offer a convenient option for downsizing, and create an alternative source of revenue.  ADUs are often termed mother-in-law suites and granny flats because they allow different generations of the family to live in the same lot with privacy.  Beyond encouraging intergenerational interaction, ADUs allow people to age in place because of the revenue they can generate.  Because many older adults are on a fixed-income, renting out an ADU or the main house provide them financial stability to age in place.  Finally, detached ADUs are a great option for aging in place because many have a zero-step entry.  As home owners are building ADUs, they have the flexibility to construct the unit with ADA accessibility and Universal Design standards in mind.  Universal Design accommodates ADA regulations and encourages other modifications that allow easy mobility throughout a home.

What is happening in Colorado Springs?

The City Planning Commission will present City Council a proposal on expanding ADUs in Spring 2019.  ADUs are currently allowed in two-family and multi-family zones.  This proposal would allow ADUs in single-family zone districts and reduce the challenges many homeowners face when trying to build an ADU.  Click here to learn more about the proposed ordinance and how you can voice your opinion.

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