Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

Portland's 'Granny Flats' Get an Affordable Boost

A new startup pays the upfront cost of a backyard dwelling in exchange for some of the rent it generates.
Incoming: awesome and affordable granny flats.
Incoming: awesome and affordable granny flats.Dweller

PORTLAND, OREGON—A wind through the back alleys of the Alberta Arts District reveals an eye-catching assortment of little buildings behind homes: a low-slung converted garage, a wooden A-frame on a hitch, a “tiny house” with second-story sundeck.

With about 70 percent of its metro area zoned for single-family housing, and some of the fastest-rising rents in the country, Portland has a paralyzing shortage of affordable housing that officials believe more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) could help address. City homeowners are embracing the idea: ADUs are popping up faster here than anywhere else in the U.S., with the city issuing building permits for about one unit per day in 2016.