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BBC – Capital – Garages – the new affordable houses?

Would you ever settle in another garage? Or do you let a stranger move in with you?

More and more people are asking, "Why not?"

Consider how difficult it is for people to afford housing in large cities. Rents have risen from Berlin via Singapore to Stockholm. And forget about the purchase: Studies from last year have shown that, for example, 40% of young adults in England can not even afford the cheapest houses in their vicinity – even with a deposit of only 10% garage an answer?

Maybe. In parts of the United States, a lack of affordable housing means that garage conversions are increasing, especially in the United States. For example, in auto-centric Los Angeles, 1

17 garage conversion permits were issued to residents in 2016. In 2018, this number increased to 4,171 as a result of a change in the law.

In Los Angeles, 117 garage remodeling permits were issued to residents in 2016 – but in 2018 that number rose to 4,171.

These garage apartments could represent far more than the possibility of an additional income stream for homeowners. Advocates say they can help solve housing problems in cities and even tackle homelessness.

"Essentially Invisible"

In a CityLab April paper, three urban planning experts wondered how single families are. Garages could ease California's housing crisis. They pointed out that the number of garage renovations in Los Angeles – a city full of garages – has grown rapidly.

"Is this an opportunity to exchange cars for people?" Asks Anne Brown, assistant professor at the University of Oregon and co-professor. Author of the CityLab article. "The really interesting thing is that this kind of living is essentially invisible – the built environment [of the neighbourhood] will not look that different."

In other words, it's a way to accommodate more people without actually building more have houses.

Who lives in these garages? Boomerang children, elderly relatives in need of care, Airbnb guests. And this shift is not limited to rebuilt garages. Backyard cottages, converted garden sheds, these famous two tiny houses – they are all referred to as ADUs or additional housing units. In Britain, they are sometimes referred to as granny flats or annexes, indicating the intergenerational nature of these units: Today's tool shed can tomorrow be your grandmother's everyday life.

The potential of a garage

Cherry Tung is a Los Angeles based creator who has found her remodeled garage on a Chinese version of Craigslist. She says the main reason for her choice is the price: the rent is $ 950 a month, compared to the typical $ 2,000 in her region. It has a kitchen, a bathroom and a wall separating living room and bedroom.

"It's actually decent, I have enough room for me and two cats, it's relatively quiet, cheap, no neighbor upstairs and a separate entrance from my landlord," says Tung. "The garage rental situation is up The Chinese Craigslist is widely used. "

Today's tool shed may be the norm for you tomorrow.

It believes garage apartments could help solve the problem of affordable housing." Local laws and regulations are very difficult and risky. "

Ira Belgrad, also based in LA, knows that he and his wife ran their own talent agency in Hollywood, but after his wife died 10 years ago, Belgrade relied on the Renting his converted garage, which is now a two-storey house, as an additional source of income.

"In my life, everything has fallen apart I had a two-and-a-half-year-old son and had to take out a mortgage, "he says. "If I could turn the whole thing [garage] into a kitchen, I could rent it out. The city said no. "But he did it anyway. Four years after the successful (but illegal) leasing of the finished space to a tenant he had found on Craigslist, an anonymous neighbor reported the activity to the city authorities.

Belgrade became one of the city's most vociferous supporters to facilitate the issuance of ADU permits. This law was finally passed in 2017 according to a nationwide law that led to this increase in permits in LA. Now Belgrade not only continues to lease its converted garage, but also operates its own company that helps others navigate the legal waters of the ADU construction.

Since the law was changed in 2017, LA has seen "more than 1,000" The number of permits requested by homeowners to build new ADUs and convert existing structures – such as garages and pool houses – in ADCs has increased by one percent, "says Alex Comisar, spokesman for Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles. [19659002] Los Angeles is not the only city on the West Coast where this trend is increasing. Portland and Seattle, Oregon, Washington have also given priority to ADC development. About 200 km north is another world leader: Vancouver in the Canadian province of British Columbia. (And yes, you guessed it – rents in all three cities have risen steadily in recent years.)

The Vancouver versions of converted garages are referred to as "alley houses": tiny units, but still around 700 to 1,000 Square feet – enough for a studio, bedroom and bathroom. They are built on the sprawling network of very small side streets (lanes) of the city that meander through the houses. The city says over 4,000 new lane houses have been built in the last 10 years, and it hopes to add another 4,000 over the next 10 years.

The city says that over 4,000 new lane houses have been built in the last 10 years, and it hopes to add another 4,000 over the next 10 years

"Although we've been building strip houses for a decade, there was one quite a boom, "says Graham Anderson, community planner in Vancouver. "It adds a new housing choice – a gentle way of providing a new density that will not lead to mass redevelopment." Respondents were considered unaffordable – these cities have relaxed the relevant planning laws. In LA, before 2016, there were over 50,000 illegally-operated ADCs of all kinds – an informal market that signaled demand.

ADUs have become increasingly standard in Vancouver as well. The city indicates that 75% of the city's new family houses – about 800 a year – have already been built with an outbuilding or a secondary suite. For city planners, this is a dazzling signal that cities should fall on. We have "potential living space at hand. They are very low-hanging fruits, "says Brown. "And we should grab this."

Fight homelessness?

Could ADCs not only increase the total housing stock, but also contribute to the fight against homelessness? LA hopes it.

In Los Angeles County, homelessness has increased 12% since last year and increased 16% in the city itself. Nearly 60,000 people in the county slept badly during a January census, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Last October, a major philanthropic firm donated $ 1 million to LA to help Angelenos turn their garages into housing units as part of a new pilot program. (However, it was not a perfect rollout – hangups such as power line locations have denied permission to some residents.)

"We thought what a great way to complement the many strategies we need to try and add to homelessness LA to quit and try to get people who build these units together with people coming off the street, "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a radio interview in October.

Press Secretary Comisar says "homeowners will be Part of the solution to tackling homelessness will benefit from constant rental income and an increase in home equity. "LA's goal is to" accommodate at least 200 disabled people in nearly 150 ADUs ".

The Californian researchers also point out additional benefits: having more eye pairs in the neighborhood could make the area safer and provide an additional income to the tenant: "I have friends [in LA] who moved into the garage and rented the house themselves." says Brown. [19659002] So, what did the old California law demand? That each detached house has two covered parking off the street. But not anymore.

Donald Shoup, a city planning professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who worked with Anne Brown on a garage project, estimates that converting a garage into an apartment costs about $ 80,000. Before the laws were relaxed in California, many of these illegal conversions led to electric fires, as the buildings did not necessarily meet the standards of the city. Now, the relaxed permits allow residents to do so in a safer (and more legal) way.

But would it work in other countries?

Shipping to other locations

Places like LA or Vancouver They have peculiarities that could make it difficult to transfer the plan beyond the North American West Coast, like the auto-centric nature of these cities. But for any big city living on the road, garage ADUs could have a huge impact on urban planning in the future. That's why places outside of North America like New Zealand have recently started exploring the potential of ADCs in their cities. (Although in New Zealand, life in garages was a worrying symptom of the housing crisis rather than a solution.)

Planning is too much dictated by the needs of how we park our cars and what happens to them, "says Vinit Mukhija. Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, who has worked with Shoup and Brown. "It takes over, increases the cost of housing, becomes the driving force – everything starts to be driven by this one factor. We hope to change that. We do not have to park so much off the road. "

Instead, people can park their cars on their driveways and turn their garages – houses for their cars – into homes for people, especially those who can not afford any kind of home." Shoup believes there are more cities Finding ways to accommodate people in existing structures (such as garages) and making it easier to do this The more permits are given for remodeling and renting the premises, the better it will be for the cities.

This could include basement flats in For example, a facility could be a richer family and a younger, lower-income tenant, especially near universities, enabling more diversity in a single-family neighborhood – people who otherwise could not afford it living in a good neighborhood. "It could change the way we plan cities – and Help us to accommodate all people in them.

"It's a ray of hope," says Shoup. "To believe that we've spent so many years building a city around cars – now we can make them more around people."

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