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Denver Residents Build Affordable Housing in Backyards through Pilot ADU Program

Applications Being Accepted Now for Sites that will be constructed in 2024

DENVER – (Friday, September 22, 2023) Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and West Denver Renaissance Collaborative (WDRC) have teamed up with a broad coalition of partners to help homeowners navigate the process of building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Today the organization showcased one of 14 completed ADUs that has helped stabilize 28 families.  

ADUs, also called casitas, carriage houses, and alley-flats, are second homes typically in the rear of existing residential lots. As community engagement has spread, the demand from homeowners stepping up to address Denver’s housing crisis has quadrupled. DHA & WDRC recently provided a sneak-peek inside an 864 square foot, three-bedroom, affordably restricted ADU constructed through the program.

WDRC director Renee Martinez Stone explained that the idea of using ADUs as a housing solution came from West Denver community leaders in 2017 who saw West Denver families experiencing instability as wages failed to keep pace with soaring housing costs.

“By 2019,19,000 households across nine neighborhoods of west and southwest Denver had combined creating one of the most ‘doubled-up’ areas in the city and state,” Martinez Stone said. “We see our work with the ADU program as an upstream intervention for homelessness in the housing crisis, working in large part with temporarily doubled-up families experiencing overcrowding.”

The program has stabilized 28 families, building 14 ADUs and providing technical support and financial counseling to many others preparing to finance their future build. All participants to date built with the intent to house a family, though this is not a program requirement. The average rent is $800.00 a month across the studios, 1, 2, and 3-bedroom ADUs, meeting a deeply affordable price point for renters. These below-market prices are made possible through a range of partners including Habitat for Humanity, Denver’s Department of Housing and Stability, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs, Denver Water, and local lenders working to innovate ADU financing. The program provides pre-designed floorplans, predevelopment and engineering services, technical support, and up to $88,700 in construction cost savings.

Homeowners are increasingly discovering that ADUs help families to age in place, prevent displacement, and are a form of sustainable development creating both stability and economic opportunity for long-term residents.

DHA is accepting applications for sites that will be constructed this time next year, and there are no area or income limitations on who can participate, providing ADU zoning is in place. The units have a maximum rent allowed through the program, and participants agree not to use them for short-term or vacation rentals like Airbnb or VRBO.  You can learn more and apply to build your own ADU through the organization at