House approves Ackerman bill that would make it easier to construct accessory dwelling units, ease housing crisis


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives has passed legislation introduced by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) that would help to curb the state’s housing crisis by making it easier to construct accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

The bill (2022-H 7942A) would amend the definition of an ADU to provide a consistent, statewide framework and efficient process for the approval and permitted use of these units. The act would also permit ADUs to be counted towards low- and moderate-income housing requirements, if certain income and other limitations are met.  The legislation would also remove the requirement that the occupant of an ADU must be a family member.

ADUs are independent units attached to an existing home or located on the same lot as a stand-alone house. These units have separate kitchens, bathrooms, and entrances and are seen as a creative solution for increasing the housing supply in Rhode Island.

“This act aims to remove a lot of the barriers that people face in building these types of additions on their homes,” said Representative Ackerman. “So many people are paying more than they can afford on housing, jeopardizing their financial future. These accessory apartments would not only address the housing shortage, but help owners who may want to provide a home for care of a loved one, provide housing for relatives or friends, earn extra income from rent, or just feel safer knowing that someone they trust is living nearby. This is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to deal with the housing crisis right now.”

The legislation is part of a package of bills urged by Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) to address the state’s housing crisis. As the state faces a critical shortage of housing, the House of Representatives met the challenge with a range of legislative strategies. Several groups, including AARP, Rhode Island Housing, the Rhode Island Realtors Association, and the Housing Network of Rhode Island testified in favor of Representative Ackerman’s bill.

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2022-S 2623A) has been introduced by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence).