Accessory Dwelling Units help keep Portland affordable

Earlier this year, Michelle Labra got a notice that the rent on her family’s two-bedroom apartment was doubling, from around $620 a month to more than $1,300.

She worried she was being priced out of Portland and would have to move to the suburbs.

But Labra, her husband and their two children didn’t get pushed out of Cully, their North Portland neighborhood. They were able to stay by moving into a little house, 800 square feet, built in a neighbor’s backyard. It’s a type of housing city planners refer to as an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, often called a granny flat or granny pod.

“When I first came in and I saw this beautiful house, I was amazed,” Labra says. “We’ve never had a place that’s new like this. My kids loved it, and they were already wanting to get their stuff together and saying, Mom, when can we move in?”

With a lot of cities looking for solutions to rising housing prices, the idea of making it easier for homeowners to add small second units in their backyards and garages is gaining traction.


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