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New York’s ADU Program: Investing $85 Million in Backyard Homes

Through funding and grants, New York’s ADU Program empowers homeowners to add more housing units.

In the face of a mounting housing crisis, New York is stepping up in an innovative way. The state has committed to supporting homeowners by providing funding to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – essentially, smaller homes or apartments – right in their backyards.

How the Program Works

  • New York earmarked $85 million specifically to help homeowners create these ADUs.
  • Local governments and nonprofits are tasked with distributing these funds to the homeowners.
  • Until now, $23.4 million has been allocated, benefiting homeowners from Buffalo to the bustling streets of New York City.

This initiative is part of the Plus One ADU Program introduced in the state’s 2022-2023 budget. The program offers grants of up to $125,000 to homeowners looking to add a housing unit to their property. The overall vision? To distribute a whopping $85 million in grants by 2028.

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Why it Matters

According to Jolie Milstein, the president of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, it’s crucial to “investigate every avenue to build every single unit that we have.” The program is timely as housing shortages ripple across the country, escalating home prices and rental costs.

Governor Kathy Hochul also emphasized the importance of this initiative. Through the ADU program and other strategies, she aims to alleviate “New York’s housing crisis by increasing the housing supply.”

First Round Highlights

  • The initial phase saw nine grants being awarded. Amounts ranged from $500,000 to $2.6 million.
  • Beneficiaries included local entities such as Ulster County and the Town of Amherst, as well as prominent nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity of New York City and Westchester.
  • With this support, numerous homeowners, spanning from Buffalo to NYC, are on track to receive funds. Their projects? Transforming garages into cozy apartments or building tiny homes in their green spaces.

Application Essentials

If you’re a homeowner in New York, you might be wondering about eligibility. The criteria hinge on the area’s median income, and specifics vary based on the location within the state.

A Wider Context

The housing crisis isn’t limited to New York. Cities nationwide, like those in California, have relaxed zoning laws, enabling homeowners to construct additional living units. While New York’s legislature hasn’t followed suit entirely, this grant program stands as a testament to the state’s commitment to innovative housing solutions.

For Jolie Milstein, this strategy not only offers an immediate solution but also paves the way for homeowners to have “the freedom and flexibility to address the crisis in their own homes.”


  • What is an accessory dwelling unit (ADU)?
    An ADU is a smaller, independent residential unit located on the same lot as a stand-alone (i.e., detached) house.
  • How can ADUs help with the housing crisis?
    ADUs offer an affordable housing option by utilizing existing land and infrastructure. They can also provide homeowners with supplemental income.
  • What are the benefits of an ADU?
    ADUs can increase property value, offer housing for family members, generate rental income, and provide more housing options in dense areas.
  • Are ADUs legal in New York?
    Yes, with the introduction of programs like the Plus One ADU Program, New York is actively promoting the construction of ADUs.

Looking for more insights into ADUs and property specifics? Don’t hesitate to use The ADU Guide’s free property report. Equip yourself with knowledge and make informed decisions!

Article inspired by Kelsey Neubauer’s piece on Insider.



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