ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) Assistance and Collaboration Program

Accelerating an affordable, equitable and sustainable housing option

The Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) at Portland State University is a unique and dynamic program focused on achieving practical results for communities wanting to implement sustainability plans and goals.

USA is currently working with teams from Charlottesville VA, Washington DC, and Seattle WA to help those communities accelerate the development of ADUs and encourage their use as affordable housing alternatives. We are recruiting new teams to join this program for the year starting Sept. 2019. Read more about the program below and contact Molly Baer Kramer with any questions.

USA’s ADU Assistance and Collaboration Program is offering one year of professional advice, assistance and collaboration to teams from states, regions, cities, and other local governments that want to promote the construction of accessory dwelling units (also called granny flats, in-law apartments, etc.).

This program will help participants determine how best to encourage ADU development in their area. Assistance will be tailored to the specific needs or challenges of each place-based team. The program stresses meeting community goals for affordability, equity, and sustainability by influencing the design, location, and uses of ADUs.

Participating communities will develop and carry out action plans to answer these and similar questions:

  • What changes to local zoning codes, permitting practices and government financial incentives have been effective in encouraging construction of ADUs?
  • What nongovernmental programs can encourage and help homeowners build ADUs?
  • How can homeowners without enough savings or home equity finance an ADU?
  • How can you overcome concerns about allowing ADUs in single-family neighborhoods?
  • How much will ADUs cost to build and what rents will be charged for them?
  • Are regulations needed to limit the use of ADUs for short-term vacation rentals?
  • What can be done to make ADUs affordable to renters of modest means, and how can that effort be integrated with other steps to provide affordable housing?
  • What role can ADUs play as part of aging in place planning for families?
  • Can ADUs be deployed to address equity issues, such as counteracting gentrification and achieving ADA accountability goals?
  • What are the environmental benefits of ADUs and how can these be enhanced?

The fee for the year-long program is $35,000 per team. This includes expert assistance over the course of one year and an initial three-day program of expert consultation sessions and site visits in Portland, including airfare, meals, and lodging for up to five team members.

How the USA Program Works
How to Apply


Robert Liberty, Director | |503-725-8989
Molly Baer Kramer | Project Manager | | 503-250-2223