Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Bill


Alderman will hold briefings in 2021 for owners interested in adding coach houses, basement flats, etc.

December 15, 2020 (CHICAGO) The 40th Ward, represented by Alderman Andre Vasquez, was one of several pilot areas included in a new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bill that advanced out of the Housing Committee on Tuesday.

“Basement and attic flats and coach houses are a long-standing part of Chicago’s family housing stock,” said Ald. Vasquez, who lives with his wife and children in a coach house behind the family’s principal dwelling unit. “This is an instrument for keeping families together and helping owner-occupied small buildings make ends meet.”

The bill will allow owners of residential properties to add basement, attic, or coach house units, provided they meet all building and safety code requirements. Owners of larger properties will be able to add multiple accessory dwelling units if 50% are dedicated as affordable housing.

Vasquez, who campaigned on and has advocated strongly for affordable housing tools above and beyond the minimum threshold of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), added that “this is a path to legal, code-compliant units in a lot of traditional Chicago two- and three-flats that have been threatened by downzoning and gentrification.”

The 40th Ward contains a large number of older two- and three-flat buildings, nearly all located in R3 zoning that prohibits three-flat use or new construction. “When you have a Ward where the actual built environment doesn’t look much like what the zoning map says on paper,” said Vasquez, “people start looking for other tools to solve the affordable housing needs. I’m optimistic that this bill can be one tool in that kit.”

Vasquez plans to host briefings for interested homeowners on the ADU process in January or February of 2021. The bill will allow permits for new accessory dwelling units starting in May 2021.