What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also called a second unit, a junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU), granny flat, in-law unit, or backyard cottage, is an additional unit of housing added to a parcel of land containing a single-family home. ADUs can be attached to the main home by converting an extra bedroom, garage or basement, or built as an addition, or they can be completely detached if there is enough space on the lot. ADUs have the potential to yield multiple benefits for residents and communities:

  • New, more affordable homes for smaller households within the fabric of existing neighborhoods
  • Flexible living spaces that meet the needs of families that are branching, blending and aging
  • Supplemental income for homeowners seeking financial stability
  • Housing solutions for specific populations, including formerly homeless, seniors, home healthcare workers, developmentally disabled adults, and teachers
  • Reduced traffic congestion resulting from increased housing supply near public transit
  • Local construction jobs and training opportunities


To learn more about Hello Housing’s work with Accessory Dwelling Units, please check out HelloBright.org, our new website which features new housing solutions borne out of partnerships with homeowners, public agencies, major corporations, and philanthropy. Our first offering, Bright in Your Own Backyard, is a pilot program designed to create housing stability for existing homeowners while adding new rental units that are affordable to a median-income tenant. At HelloBright,org, you can subscribe to The Bright Spot to stay up to date on our offerings and other resources related to second units. And, if you are a professional involved in designing, financing or building ADUs, we invite you to join our Registry.

Michelle is a proud new homeowner who purchased a Hello Housing NSP home in San Lorenzo.

Board Member Rick Jacobus is a national expert using data, not anecdote, to design more impactful affordable homeownership programs.

Mardie Oakes, President, blends finance, design and development to make places people thrive.

Jennifer Duffy, Vice President, turns opportunity into action with the Hello Housing team.

Apple lives in a new type of housing made possible by Senate Bill 962, sponsored by former Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

Larry shares a duplex with two housemates in an innovative residential program called the Family Teaching Model.

Tien is a proud new owner of an affordable home in Newark, as well a box full of tools to make home repairs easy.